Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 14

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Archive 13 Archive 14 Archive 15


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Student newspapers

Student newspapers are not reliable; correct?--Sefringle 04:03, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

It would depend what they were being used to support. Generally, they're best avoided for anything contentious or for BLPs. It would also depend which newspaper it was. Some are very good, some not. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:15, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Definitely a grey area. They generally have useful editorial control, with at least some degree of fact checking going on. But often it isn't good fact checking. They meet the minimum requirements, but obviously that only means they're valid for the least contentious of uses (which you're likely to be able to find other sources for anyway). JulesH 23:33, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Is the The National Inquirer good? It all depends on the context! Is global warming actually happening... well according to All Gore all the scientist's reports say YES! But ask some news papers and many are skeptical and some deny it. Is it mean it's no good. I think you just have to maintain a good balance. --FR Soliloquy 04:30, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
As the policy says, sources may be reliable in one contexts and not in others. IMO a newspaper is good as a source of news firsthand reported by their reporters, or opinions of reputable persons interviewed, or articles signed by experts in the domain. Any other information coming from a newspaper, if it is not attributed in it, is not reliable. Clearly, newspaper editors and reporters are not experts in math or physics, etc. The same applies to student newspapers: you must further look at the possible domain of its expertise. Clearly they are supposed to be experts in local school news, but any other info coming from them unattributed or not written by an expert in the relevant domain is dubious IMO. `'mikka 15:28, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Concur with the gist of all of this. A source is not necessarily unreliably just because it is a student newspaper. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 16:30, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

OR wording seems to go too far and to be self-contradictory

The WP:ATT version of OR is pretty unclear and seems a bit excessive, at least in its more stringent interpretations. By my reading it appears to effectively ban the giving of examples that someone else notable didn't write, unless they are mathematical examples (meanwhile using other people's previously-published examples more than very minimally and with direct citation right at the point of usage would be a copyright violation under some jurisdictions' intellectual properly schemes).

For instance, '...an example of this type of redundancy is found in the phrase "get the cat off of the table", since the word "of" can be omitted and the resulting phrase, "get the cat off the table" has the same meaning.' Such simple examples are crucial for many articles, especially those on language concepts, yet the new WP:OR appears to label them a novel synthesis or new theory, when really they are utterly straightforward logical deductions from incontrovertible facts (which can be sourced, of course). Basically a strong argument can be made either way that this is basic logic and simple writing, quite appropriate for an article here, or that it is forbidden, uncyclopedic OR because the example itself didn't come from a journal or book, however closely it may follow similar examples in such sources. Given the "deletion fever" running high on AfD, I think OR's vagueness and seeming self-contradition - "no you can't come to any conclusions, oh, wait, actually yes you can, but only if they're basic logic, which we don't define here, or math" - is pretty likely to lead to inappropriate deletions of articles.

This section needs clarification.

SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:32, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

PS: The fact that the FAQ only has one annotation with regard to OR's meaning and applicability is a bad sign, and suggests that the entire concept needs some work before it will be of true value as a guideline. I imagine the talk page of the original WP:OR can provide a lot of FAQ fodder. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:47, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
I see what you mean. The problematic phrasing, as I see the issue, is the inclusion of previously unpublished "explanations", which would probably encompass examples. I think this can be removed without much issue. The word was added only a couple of weeks ago (here), after the policy had consensus. I don't see any discussion about the change, and don't see why it was needed, so I'm going to go ahead and revert it. JulesH 22:46, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I think this change was particularly wrong, and should have been caught sooner. The entire purpose of wikipedia, what we strive to achieve here is to write explanations in our own words of information other people have published. If we're forbidden from introducing new explanations, this goal is clearly unachievable. JulesH 22:55, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
As I noted in my edit summary, I can see how an unsourced 'explanation' would be used by some editor to advance a position, clearly violating OR. I would keep the current language, unless a consensus appears otherwise. Crum375 22:56, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't see a problem in adding simple explanations in clearly non-contentious issues, when not 'advancing a position'. Crum375 22:59, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Policies must not forbid writing that is sometimes inappropriate, only writing that is always inappropriate. Furthermore, the part of the policy that has just been edited does not say anyting about advancing a position. --Gerry Ashton 23:02, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree about the non-contentious cases. I guess if there is a contentious case, where an example is used to advance a position, it could be shot down using NPOV and/or viewed as an 'interpretation', so it would be covered. BTW, 'synthesis' does use the words 'advancing a position'; I would think that 'creating an example to advance a position' is no less OR-ish. Crum375 23:18, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Just to get my !vote in: I believe we all understand the point that "explanation" can be used to mean theory (or interpretation, etc.), but this does not mean that the word "explanation" needs to be placed next to "theory". It's just intuitively obvious. If some dork-o tries to defend a nonsense POV article in AfD with "but, I'm just explaining...", no one is going to buy that. Insisting on treating the word "explanation" like "theory" here has severe negative consequences because of the deep abiguity it introduces. And I have to say Gerry Ashton's point just above hits the nail right on the nose. One of the smartest things I've seen said on WP in a week or so. His second point is also right on the money - this is WP:ATT not WP:NPOV. I know some people here feel a deep need that I do not understand to collapse separate policies and guidelines into longer, more (supposedly) melded ones, but enough is enough. Anyway, as I said in edit summary, JulesH is utterly right on this. Every article on Wikipedia is a "new explanation"; if it wasn't it would be a blatant copyvio. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:31, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't buy JulesH's reasoning, though I respect the intention. "Theory" has different - quite distinct - uses and is not a synonym for explanation. Explanation should be included if we are talking about no original explanations being permitted (and it was in the old NOR policy). JulesH's reasoning can apply to synthesis or interpretation - of course Wikipedia, like other encylopedias, provides syntheses, and interpretations, and explanations - but our policy is that these must come from attributable sources and nto be original to the editor. I don't see any controversy about keeping "explanations" when we are clear the point is whether or not they are original or attributable. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:49, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

What Slrubenstein says makes sense to me. HighInBC(Need help? Ask me) 16:53, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I can't concur on this at all, but I'm not going to edit war over it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 17:33, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
The key difference is that an explanation is a much lower level textual detail than a synthesis (which refers to how different pieces of information are combined) or an interpretation (which refers to the meaning derived from the information). Explanations would tend to be on a much lower level: a set of points that together can be used to understand the meaning of something. It's not quite on the level of words, but not far off. JulesH 19:37, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem reported in this topic remains unresolved since the fix for it was reverted on the basis that policy "used to" say "explanation", so it still should. I don't find that reasoning compelling in any way. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 17:33, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Are examples explainations?

One of the arguments about whether original explainations are allowed is whether examples constitute original explainations. For example, if I take material from two different sources, and both sources give examples, for the sake of conciseness and smooth flow, I might want to modifiy one of the examples to use one example throughout the article. If I'm writing an article about electricity, and one source uses a 6 V battery example while discussing resistance, while a second uses a 12 V battery while discussing current, I might want to modify the first example to use 12 V in order to make the article flow more smoothly. In my view, the revision of the values would be an elementary calculation. So I would like to know if Slrubenstein considers original or modified examples to be original explainations. --Gerry Ashton 18:54, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that examples can be a form of explanation, and in my opinion any example that is not based on reliably published sources could be viewed as OR. I would probably allow simple examples for non-contentious topics, like the one you mention, assuming they otherwise conform to published knowledge, but I would shy away from them, like any original interpretation or analysis, in contentious cases where used to advance a position. Crum375 19:40, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Would you, therefore, support a change that restricts original explanations to those that do not advance a position that cannot be attributed to a reliable source? This would be different from the current text in that it doesn't require the explanation itself to have been published by a reliable source, only the points it is trying to make. JulesH 19:44, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
This is the current text: "Material counts as original research if it: ... introduces an analysis, synthesis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions, or arguments without attributing that analysis, synthesis, explanation or interpretation to a reliable source who has published the material in relation to the topic of the article". That sounds fine to me. Crum375 19:50, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
What if a series of examples is added to an article, to advance the position that 'one side' in a public controverly uses illegitimate tactics? For example, the Astroturfing article contains predominantly examples of accusations that various "pro-industry" PR campaigns are masquerading as grassroots initiatives. Is this being used to advance the POV that "industry lies and cheats" while "Environmentalists are good and honest"?
How many 'examples' are needed to explain a concept? And when does this cross over into being a list of offenses (used to demonize a side) rather than a set of "examples used to illustrate the idea"? --Uncle Ed 19:56, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
If your 'examples' are reliably published, they would be acceptable, if pertinent. Crum375 20:00, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Consensus

It is important that anyone who disagrees with the proposed change be willing to discuss their objections here. SlimVirgin and Crum375 have reverted the proposed sentence, against the consensus on this talk page, but have not articulated here any reason for preferring the version without that sentence. We still haven't heard here, if I remember right, from anyone who supports the new, unqualified "not whether it is true" wording an example of a situation in which they think that wording would have a beneficial effect in comparison to not having those words.

Please do not revert the new sentence without expressing clearly here the reasons for opposing it. We're still in the process of trying to find a wording that consensus can be built around after the new, unqualified "not whether it is true" wording was proposed. We need everyone involved to state their opinion clearly so that we can search for a wording that everyone is reasonably satisfied with. Reasons have been stated for including the sentence "Not everything which is attributable is worhty of inclusion." No reasons have been stated here for not including this sentence.

I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to interpret silence as objection. If people have objections, they need to communicate not only the fact that they have an objection, but also the reasoning behind the objection, so that a discussion can continue from their in search of a wording that everyone can live with. I've noticed that some changes have been made recently to the policy without my having commented in advance, so I don't think taking silence as objection is the norm. We also need to consider the silence of those who used WP:Verifiability for many months, without seeing any merge tag on it, only a notice that it was policy. If such people are now reverting the new wording in various ways it should not be surprising. --Coppertwig 23:34, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Indeed. I don't even want to get started on the hijacking aspects; just not going to go there right now. To be honest, I'm smelling a whiff of WP:OWN around here. The revert rate is high and rather testy (or completely silent, which is even worse), even for a guideline/policy page, and often seems to be based on "just because I said so" rather than adequately explained reasons; I'm not just talking about today in particular and not singling anyone out; it's just something I've observed as a general, multi-party pattern ever since the merge of everything under the sun into WP:ATT (which I frankly think was an enormous mistake, but I and many, many others weren't even aware of this consolidation move. D'oh. I said I wasn't going to go there...) Anyway, as to editwarring, WP:N was like this in Nov. - Dec. 2006 and part of Jan. 2007, and the fights this over-control caused were really something (and not something good). That didn't get to be a rational guideline that had actual, cognizable consensus until around early Feb. 2007. Anyway, I agree vehemently that silence is not objection, with the caveat that silence for 5 minutes or even 5 hours doesn't mean anything at all. Silence for several days, however, can be taken as assent. If it turns out to not be assent, but just lack of attention, failure to understand the proposal, or considering it so silly as to not have been worth commenting on, that should become pretty apparent, and frankly shouldn't be very common. If it is common, then this means that the editors doing the testy reverts need to remember how to use a talk page.
All that said, I don't agree with the inclusion of the "not everything which is attributable is worthy of inclusion" bit. This concept is already covered elsewhere, and this policy for whatever it is presently worth or will be worth at some point, is not about overinclusion of irrelevant but true facts, it is about the requirements for inclusion at all. Completely different topics. That said, I think the point is a good one, and if it is not being made clearly enough where it should be made, then that situation should be improved. But as for this particular policypage, "no reasons have been stated here for not including this sentence" is no longer true. Sorry; nothing personal.— SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:31, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Synthesis needs its own bulletpoint

Per the recent edits of "What is Original Research?" we now have the following bulletpoint:

"[Material counts as original research if it] introduces an analysis, synthesis, or interpretation of published facts, opinions, or arguments without attributing that analysis, synthesis, or interpretation to a reliable source who has published the material in relation to the topic of the article."

While this statement is perfectly in line with the policy regarding analysis and interpretation, it is not representative when it comes to synthesis. Take the dicdef of wikt:synthesis:

"the formation of something complex or coherent by combining simpler things"

Or to simplify, any collection of numerous things, in this case sources. When you consider this definition in regards to the policy, this means that the new bulletpoint effectively states that you cannot use any combination of sources in an article unless some other reliable source has used that exact same combination of sources previously. This is obviously wrong; Wikipedia is at its very nature a collection of information gathered from multiple sources. It is only when that combination of sources advances some position or induces the reader to draw a conclusion that it becomes OR.

To remedy this problem, I propose the above bulletpoint be expanded into the following two bulletpoints (or similar):

  • introduces an analysis or interpretation of published facts, opinions, or arguments without attributing that analysis or interpretation to a reliable source who has published the material in relation to the topic of the article.
  • introduces a synthesis of published facts, opinions, or arguments that serves to advance a position without attributing that synthesis to a reliable source who has published the material in relation to the topic of the article.

Thoughts? -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 00:12, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Concur. I think someone simply liked the word "synthesis" and wanted the text to include it, but didn't understand the ramifications of doing so. Also, the text badly needs a copy edit to get rid of the blah, blah or blah repetition. It's really tedious. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:58, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
I also agree. To take this to an extreme, 1 + 1 = 2, and everyone agrees, but 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 and the current wording almost prohibits it. If the result is obvious and non-controverial, synthesis is OK. - Peregrine Fisher 07:21, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Even 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 can be "original research", such as in a discussion of whether or not Christianity (father, son, holy ghost) is monotheistic or not. WAS 4.250 21:47, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
I see that at some point the section on synthesis has lost the text "in a way that advances a position favored by the editor" that was previously in it (e.g. in this version). Now, I can see why this text has been removed: it doesn't say what we want it to say. How do we know what position the editor favours?
How about replacing it with "that serves to advance a position that is not attributable to a published reliable source"? Alternatively, we could add something like "Any material that argues in favour of a position that can be attributed to a published reliable source is not original research" to the "What is not original research" section. Comments? JulesH 07:42, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Just to clarify, the distinction between my first suggestion and yukichigai's is that it doesn't require attribution, but attributability. This is necessary in order to avoid contradicting the definition of something that is unattributable as OR, but not necessarily something that is unattributed. JulesH 07:45, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Support. I think that works beautifully. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 16:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Aren't we splitting hairs here? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:04, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Um, no. Been to AfD lately? Any way even vaguely conceivable to misinterpret or miscast policies and guidelines, pro or con deletion, will happen, again and again, and sometimes even build a weight of false precedent, until thwarted by this so-called "hair-splitting" (i.e. clarity). I'm not one to advocate WP:BEANS or WP:CREEP style true hairsplitting, of course, but the largest and deepest policy debates really are almost always over wording that seems very minor or barely any different to people not involved in the debate over that wording. This is hardly a Wiki thing either; you should try watching US legislation, for example, evolve day-to-day some time (and you can, too, at the THOMAS server). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:15, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Interpretation and application of policy is still within the domain of editor's responsibilities. We cannot craft policies to address each single instance of its application. "Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa", (Spanish: make a rule and you would have also have made a way to break it). The current formulation of "synthesis" as it applies to NOR is more than sufficient for this policy. If you want to expand on details and give examples, a better place would be the WP:ATT/FAQ. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:12, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Mmm... that's non-responsive, really. The proposed change ("attributability") is emphatically not about "expand[ing] on details or giv[ing] examples", it is about defining; you're making straw man argument.  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:44, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
This isn't a case of expanding on details or giving examples: this is clarifying that the definition does not apply in cases where it should not. Original Research, as we've always defined it in the past, is (among other things) synthesizing multiple sources in order to make a point that hasn't been published by a reliable source. The problem is that the current text doesn't include the restriction to unpublished points. The definition has been broadened, and I don't think anyone really intended to broaden it. JulesH 21:20, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
I am readig Wikipedia:Attribution#No_original_research, JulesH, and cannot see what has been broadened. Care to help me understand what in your view has been broadened? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:32, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Note the removal of the language "that advances a position favored by the editor"; removing this language is the problem. Because the word "synthesis" has been left the new bulletpoint effectively states (as I stated above, don't know how I can be any more clear) that ANY synthesis, any "formation of something complex or coherent by combining simpler things", is Original Research. This does encompass the kind of synthesis we want to avoid -- the kind where there are unpublished conclusions drawn (or directed to be drawn) -- but it also prohibits anything that uses a combination of sources when that exact combination of sources hasn't been used by some other source previously. Effectively, removing the "advances a position" language and leaving the word "synthesis" in has made all of wikipedia Original Research, since every wikipedia article is "the formation of something complex or coherent by combining simpler things", i.e. making a coherant article by gathering information from multiple sources. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 22:01, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Entirely agreed, though I think we are now having two different conversations that need to either be tied together more clearly, or forked into separate topics. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:44, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
Yukichigai elsewhere (on the FAQ page) has proposed replacing "synthesis (of)" with "analysis or interpretation(s) (of)". I'm strongly inclined to support that change. "Synthesis" is being misused here, and is already the subject to two disputatious threads on this talk page. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:32, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Contentious topics

This sentence sparked a question in my mind:

  • Wikipedia articles should rely on reliable, published secondary sources wherever possible. This means that we only publish the opinions of reliable authors, and not the opinions of Wikipedians who have read and interpreted primary source material for themselves.

What about the case where secondary sources disagree with each other, and one group of secondary sources is very popular in the public media (or even among Wikipedia contributors)? I refer to cases where one side (frequently US liberals) claims that there is a "consensus" on any of many scientific questions.

Should Wikipedia agree with the Liberal POV here, and say that "there is no controversy ... there is a consensus ... etc."? Or would this be giving undue weight to one side in a debate?

How much of a majority must there be on a disputed topic, for the article to adopt one position on it as the "consensus position"? Is 80% to 85% considered consensus on scientific topics, as it is for afd and rfa votes? Would this mean that if only 10% to 15% of scientists in a particular field disagree with the mainstream, there views should be excluded from the article in question? (Or just marked as "minority views"?)

And if a particular viewpoint is deemed "in the minority", are editors required to delete any citations which support it? Would it violate 'undue weight' to cite a peer-reviewed scientific journal article which goes against the mainstream? If so, what percent of support among scientists must the mainstream view have, before all contrary views must (or may) be excluded from an article?

I would propose that 99.8% is certainly enough for that (i.e, 499 out of 500). But what if it's only 95% (i.e., 19 out of 20)? Where is the cutoff?

Or what if Wikipedia editors are unable to determine the percentage of support? Suppose all we know on some obscure (or deeply technical) matter, is that political advocates outside of Wikipedia are citing duelling studies? Passive smoking causes cancer! No, it doesn't! Antarctica is warming and the glaciers are melting! No, it's getting cooler and the ice is thicker than ever!

Do we just guess that it's 50-50? Or avoid estimating the percentage ourselves? Do we quote one side, which says "everyone agrees with me"? If we don't know, are we as editors allowed to leave it indeterminate? --Uncle Ed 00:17, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it would be undue weight, and yes, we should avoid making up percentage estimates (blatant OR). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:37, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I see the link between the sentence of policy you quote and the question you ask. In fact, the question you ask should really be at WP:NPOV, not here. JulesH 08:19, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with JulesH. The above is not a WP:NOR issue. It's a WP:NPOV issue. J Readings 09:22, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Let's try and give an answer, anyways. We shouldn't be trying to judge the percent of agreement and disagreement, first off. If there is a "consensus agreement," that should only be stated if some secondary source states that some view has a "consensus." If the New York Times says "scientists have reached a consensus that global warming is real," then there is a statement about consensus that we can use. We basically have to trust secondary sources, else, who can we trust? Our own opinions have no bearing on this. Undue weight is not a problem if peer reviewed scientific journal are cited, it's only a problem when they aren't. A peer reviewed journal is a good source, so we can use it all we want. Now let's look at the possible downside of all this. Say global warming is mentioned in 1000 articles; 900 say it's real, 100 say it isn't. One could write an article with 10 refs from each, making it seem like it's more disputed than it is. There's nothing these policy pages can really say about this; this is where we have to trust our editors. It's an imperfect world, and we all just do the best we can. If an editor uses the fact that there's lots of reliable sources for each viewpoint to push their POV, it just has to be worked out in the talk pages. It may seem like using math to answer these questions is a good idea, but really it's best done through human discussion. - Peregrine Fisher 09:52, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your response, Peregrine. I have a follow-up, too.

Whether JulesH and J Readings see the connection or not, the policy page says:

  • Wikipedia:Attribution is one of Wikipedia's two core content policies. The other is Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles; that is, content on Wikipedia must be attributable and written from a neutral point of view. Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another.

So I hope you don't mind my asking a question that seems 'more' connected to NPOV. I'm trying to figure out how these 2 complementary policies relate.

Let me try to clarify my question, because it relates to a pattern of editing engaged in by many of contributors on dozens of topics (involving 100s of articles).

Often there is a dispute about a historical or scientific matter. Like, did the Holocaust occur? (Or, did events similar to Hitler's holocaust occur in other times and places?) There are many political controversies over the environment, like Alar, DDT, "greenhouse gases", etc.

Partisans in the 'real world' outside of Wikipedia cite sources to support their positions. We have pictures in Life magazine! No, those pictures were faked! China admitted killing 20 million! No, they never said this! DDT is dangerous to birds and people! No, it's safe enough to eat by the spoonful! (There are quotable secondary sources for each of these shouted examples.)

Enter Wikipedia. Since we have a policy on neutrality, readers would naturally expect to find verifiable sources which touch on these issues. All they have to do, to be really sure, is to "verify" the verifiable. E.g., follow the link and see if what the source really says - and the way the article summarized the source - are in agreement.

But what if an issue is so complex that it consists of multiple aspects, each of which is an issue in itself? It can be too much for average readers, and even too much for some highly educated ones. At some point, the temptation is to cite someone's evalution or assessment of the whole thing:

  • According to (blank), scientists are unanimous about Alar (or DDT, etc.)

But what if sources which make assessments are in disagreement? Or what if they state that there is a consensus but don't show that there is one?

Or what if there is a question about credibility? Suppose a source does not only only make an assessment of the facts, but also recommends policy? Or what if a source is seen as (yes, that's a weasel word) beholden to financial or ideological interests? The group you cite accepts pro-industry funding! No, the group you cite accepts anti-industry funding! Your group is biased in favor of socialism! No, your group is biased against socialism!

It's not easy to determine whether a source is unbiased and objective. Is the EPA considered utterly impartial and completely independent of partisanship? How about the Atlanta CDC? Or agencies of the United Nations? What makes a source objective? The fact that it got broad international support from representatives appointed by governments?

One last question. Suppose prominent organizations run by governments or universities take a position on something; and they issue statements assessing a particular question; and these statements purport to present the "scientific consensus" on something. Suppose then that several individual scientists disagree (in public, or by publishing in peer-reviewed journals) on (1) the science itself and/or (2) whether there is a scientific consensus.

Do we:

  1. accept the assessments of the prominent organizations as factually correct and reject all dissenting views?
  2. list the prominent organizations which assert that there is a consensus, but refrain from endorsing these assertions; and also list the dissenting individual views?

Sorry this is long, but my question is about how NPOV and Attribution relate to each other on issues of historical or scientific controversy - particularly when sources assessing the matter disagree on "how much agreement or disagreement there is". --Uncle Ed 15:56, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I think we try to "list the prominent organizations which assert that there is a consensus, but refrain from endorsing these assertions; and also list the dissenting individual views." All we really have is editor's judgement. It doesn't work perfectly, obviously, but it's the best we can do. - Peregrine Fisher 18:12, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Remove silly instruction creep

"Be particularly careful when proponents of such claims say there is a conspiracy to silence them" is WP:CREEP to the point of WP:BEANS. The entire sentence should be removed. If the day comes when conspiracy theorist editors' paranoia becomes such a common issue, and such as serious one that other editors need to "be particularly careful" (or else what? Aliens will abduct them?), then maybe consider some language like this. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 15:45, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree, and anyway it's not clear what "be careful" means. Should contributors reject all 'claims of being silenced' out of hand? What if a scientific paper finally passes peer review after 3 years? Is this an indication of sloppy work on the part of the paper's authors? Extra scrutiny routinely applied to views which challenge the mainstream? Evidence that the paper is pseudoscience? Evidence that the journals are biased?
I don't think Wikipedia articles should try to answer those question, but instead refrain from trying to evaluate claims of 'truth vs. pseudoscience' and 'normal procedures vs. bias'.
On the other hand, proponents of novel views often spend more time complaining about suppression than they do explaining the merits of their views. So the caution you quoted above has some merit. Maybe the article should just (1) state what the proponents' views are and (2) report that they asserted there attempts made to silence them. --Uncle Ed 16:22, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
When I get some guy on the Earth article, claiming it is 6000 years old based on the bible, and he says I am trying to silence him, I just demand reliable sources that demonstrate this is believed by anything but a small minority. HighInBC(Need help? Ask me) 16:11, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
That makes sense, but bear in mind that about 45% of Americans are Creationists - I'm not sure how many of those are Young Earthers, but there are anything but a tiny minority.
In the field of geology, however, I have YET to see anything published about the age of the earth other than the mainstream view, i.e., it's billions of years old. Am I missing something? --Uncle Ed 20:12, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure removing it is a good plan. The advice it gives is helpful: I've certainly seen editors claim a conspiracy to silence their views (the particular editor I'm thinking of was a well-published MD who claimed that his research against medical consensus -- suggesting that treating mental conditions with drugs was inappropriate -- was being suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry), and it has been a helpful tip-off that their contribution may not be entirely reliable. I think maybe it, and perhaps some of the other text from the same paragraph, would be better off in the FAQ, however. JulesH 19:51, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Moving it to the FAQ would (at least for now) resolve my concern. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 15:23, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Helpful advice may be appropriate on user talk pages and perhaps guideline pages but can and will be misinterpreted if it's left in a policy page. Besides, I disagree with the advice in this case. Someone's claim that they're being silenced is not evidence one way or the other about the truth of what they're saying, in my opinion. And I agree with Uncle Ed that it's not at all clear what action one is supposed to take in order to "be careful". --Coppertwig 21:43, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I concur with the idea that (if kept) the proper place for this clause is FAQ. As for actions: "be careful" means that complaints of this type are a "red flag " for possible POV pushing and kookery, and the corresponding actions would be careful looking for more independent soures. Finally, if "when proponents of such claims" provide reliable sources, then it certainly turns the "red flag" into "orange" one IMO :-). `'mikka 16:08, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Original Research definition -- unified discussion (hopefully)

OK, this is the current definition of OR:

Material counts as original research if it:
  • introduces a theory, method of solution, or any other original idea;
  • defines or introduces new terms (neologisms), or provides new definitions of existing terms;
  • introduces an argument without citing a reliable source who has made that argument in relation to the topic of the article; or
  • introduces an analysis, synthesis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions, or arguments that advances a point that cannot be attributed to a reliable source who has published the material in relation to the topic of the article.

(I've just made a change which I hope won't be reverted, which is to reintroduce the old language in the last bullet point that specifies that something only qualifies if it advances an unpublished point.)

This definition is, frankly, a mess. Taking it step by step, interpreting each bullet point as a single sentence:

Material counts as original research if it introduces a theory, method of solution, or any other original idea

This is just wrong. Huge numbers of pages on wikipedia introduce theories or methods of solution, and they aren't OR. The definition of "original" in the last clause is ambiguous; by at least one interpretation almost every page in wikipedia falls foul of this definition.

Material counts as original research if it defines or introduces new terms (neologisms), or provides new definitions of existing terms

Again, defining a term is not OR. Defining a term to mean something that it hasn't been defined to mean by a published reliable source is OR.

Material counts as original research if it introduces an argument without citing a reliable source who has made that argument in relation to the topic of the article

This isn't quite so bad, but note that it requires attribution, not attributability, which contradicts the text of the following paragraph.

My proposed fix to this is to substitute this text:

Material is original research if it introduces, in a way which promotes a point of view or idea that cannot be attributed to a published reliable source, any of the below:
  • a theory, argument, idea, or definition, or
  • a synthesis of information from multiple sources, or
  • an analysis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions or arguments.

Comments? JulesH 20:13, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Strong support as far as it goes. This entire section has been messed up and confusing for a very long time. In particular, defining "explanation" as OR means every article is OR, since all Wikipedia does is explain things; that's the very function of an encyclopedia. I realize that sometimes one can use the term "explanation" when what one really means is "theory, argument, idea or definition", but no one is going to be fooled by this, so there is no reason to include "explanation" in the littany in the present version. I would go further and also remove "synthesis" for reasons already covered elsewhere; the word is simply being misused here. Every WP article that cites more than one source is a "synthesis" under the most common definition of that word. It might be possible to use the word in a different, more explained way, however, such as "* a synthesis of information from multiple sources that results in such a theory, argument idea or definition". The appearance of "example" in the reworded verison above isn't nearly as problematic as in the "live" version because of the new version's qualifying lead-in, so I'll hold off complaining about it. In short, I think this new version solves a great many problems, I can't think of any that it introduces, and to the extent that it might not solve every problem with the original wording, that can be addressed later as the need arises.
PS: I would change "below" to "following", and change commas to semicolons before the two final "or" instances.
SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:23, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually, it occurs to me that a simpler definition is possible: "Material is original research if it promotes a point of view or idea that cannot be attributed to a published reliable source." The rest could then be relegated to explanations of things that are included, rather than being part of the definition. Comments on this would be appreciated, too. JulesH 20:14, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Either way is fine by me. Both versions would be equally rational compared to the current self-contradictory mess. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:24, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

You guys are on the right track. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

How about:

  • introduces an a novel analysis, synthesis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions, or arguments that advances a unattributed point

--Uncle Ed 20:49, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Concur on the gist; I think keeping the term "novel" in there is actually important. But it would need to read:
  • a novel analysis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions or arguments
to go with the new version. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:35, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

"Material is original research if it promotes a point of view or idea that cannot be attributed to a published reliable source."

Sorry, wrong phrasing. The idea may be well attributed, but a research which promotes is still can be original, and hence unduly pushing a POV. The correct way to say would be something like: if it promotes a claim in a way unattributable to.... `'mikka 16:14, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Or promotes an idea that is not obvious and common sense (for example, stating that a character is male does not need to be attributed). The problem with the current wording is that it's attempting to satisfy Wikipedia's paranoia due to the public's criticism of its reliability, which leads to overcompensation. — Deckiller 16:40, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
What's wrong with promotion of non-obvious ideas? You probably wanted to say something like "obvious and common sense statements such as 'this character is male' are not OR". `'mikka 17:00, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

"advances a point"

IMO "... that advances a point" or similar phrasing is tautology and must be avoided. I did see some pointless research :-) but other policies will prevent it from wikipedia I guess. `'mikka 16:00, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

The suggested phrasing isn't "... that advances a point", but "... that advances a point which ...", which isn't a tautology. Yes, I agree that if it just ended "... that advances a point", that would be (ironically) pointless. JulesH 11:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

"verifiability"

Something I learned from Mikka's and Jules's analysis is that structurally Wikipedia's primary concern is "verifiability." Hence, we have

  • Material is original research if it introduces a claim that no published reliable source shows to be verifiable.

Under that standard, we have the following results.

1) The "facts" an angry spouse puts into an uncontested divorce statement would be "original research" even if you found the words in the spouse's court filings--unless you found a reliable source had published a report of what the angry spouse had claimed in the court filing showing those "facts" to be "verifiable." --Rednblu 17:24, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Not exactly so. Two points: (1) a tangent one, but the one people tend to forget: "the 'facts' an angry spouse puts" are not OR, in the phrase "An angry wife said that...<ref. to court filings>" (2) Per se, " the 'facts' an angry spouse puts" are "dubius and biased source", rather than OR. `'mikka 03:23, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
2) The theory that a creationist states would be "original research" on evolution even if you found the words in the creationist's book--unless you found a reliable source had published an analysis of the creationist's theory showing it to be "verifiable." However, the creationist's words would not be "original research" on a page about the creationist--because what the creationist publishes under her own name shows that the words are "verifiable" by a reliable source as to what the creationist has said. --Rednblu 17:24, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Again, the same fine distinction: vikipedia cannot vouch for "correctness" of the creationist, but if this guy makes enough buzz, his opinion is verifiable, and, bearing in mind the "Wikipedia:Undue weight" rule, it may be presented in the form of opinion. Exactly like ""An angry wife said that...", but in its own scope of relevance. Also please don't forget that knowledge of misconceptions is also a useful kind of knowledge. `'mikka 03:23, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I think I've figured out this mental block over "synthesis"

I did a little checking, and I've figured out (I think) where this whole "we need to use the word 'synthesis'" thing is coming from. The original Wikipedia:No original research policy's wording was based heavily on several things written by your hero and mine, Jimmy Wales. In particular, let's look at this little snippet (emphasis mine) that was cited as the basis for the old "synthesis" section of WP:NOR:

Some who completely understand why Wikipedia ought not create novel theories of physics by citing the results of experiments and so on and synthesizing them into something new, may fail to see how the same thing applies to history.

—(Wales, Jimmy. "Original research", December 6, 2004)

Seems all well and good, but here's the important bit that everyone seems to have overlooked: the definition of synthesis is different than the definition of synthesize. One is not just the verb form of the other. The difference is subtle, so I'll explain it clearly: synthesis is any new collection or combination of "things" that may or may not change the nature of the "things", whereas the process of synthesizing something is making something new out of a number of other "things". To simplify, synthesize means to make something new, whereas synthesis is the mere form of putting things together.

As far as I can understand it, the problem is that numerous editors -- not to single folks out, but SlimVirgin and Jossi in particular -- are applying the definition of the verb to the definition of the noun. The two are not the same, hence my objections to the current way "synthesis" is being used. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 23:07, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I think if you consult most dictionaries, as well as common usage, you'll discover that, quite logically, 'to synthesize' means 'to create a synthesis'. Your assertion that the verb 'synthesize' is somehow weaker than the noun 'synthesis' is quite novel, and in fact, unless attributed, WP:OR. Crum375 23:17, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Do you not understand how to read? I provided not one but two links to dicdefs of synthesis and synthesize. Read them. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 23:22, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Just to be sure, I looked up both words on dictionary.com. 11 entries for synthesis, 7 for synthesize. Only the intrasitive form of one definition is listed as meaning "to create a synthesis"; 5 of the 7 definitions specifically include the word "new". -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 23:36, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I can always improve my reading skills, but here is the primary definition from your two links:
  • Synthesize: "to combine two or more things to produce a new, more complex product"
  • Synthesis: "the formation of something complex or coherent by combining simpler things"
It sure seems to me that the verb creates the noun. Crum375 23:39, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
It sure does: Synthesis: "the combination of ideas into a complex whole"; Synthesize: "combine so as to form a more complex product" [1]. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:59, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I've lost track of the argument here. A synthesis is a putting together. We're not allowed to put published facts together in a way that serves to advance a position, unless we can attribute the putting together and the new position to a published source. That's all we're saying. Why is that problematic? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:00, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Because the policy only mentions the word "synthesis" and does not mention that the synthesis must "serve to advance a position." That language was specifically removed from the policy, and attempts to re-introduce it have been met with the usual "please don't change policy" reverts. If you understand what synthesis actually means then I am confused as to how you don't understand that the current policy wording is distorted. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 05:14, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it does, it says both. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:33, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Well crap. Color me embarassed. Looks like JulesH put the language back in while I wasn't looking. Now I understand your confusion. Sorry. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 05:27, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Also Merriam-Webster: Synthesis: "the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole.; Synthesize: "to combine or produce by synthesis". ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:02, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Meta-comment: Yukichigai, I've been holding off comment on this, because I thought maybe it was just a slip-up, and then two slip-ups, and then three, but this is getting to be a pattern. You really, really need to moderate your commentary on others' alleged abilities to read and understand, as you are well across the line of WP:CIVILity at this point, and that last one borders on transgressing WP:NPA. Loudness and anger don't make an argument stronger. Please also see WP:APR, WP:TEA and WP:MASTODON for further guidance. That said, I agree with you that the term is too subjectively interpretable in conflicting ways for continued use in the policy. I don't think I agree 100% with your linguistic analysis here, though there actually is some evidence that the two terms are diverging in fine-grained meaning, weird as that may be, since one obviously descends from the other. It's a moot point, though, and needn't be fought over any longer - just the fact of the ambiguity is enough to doom this term here as too easy to POV-interpret and fight about. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:51, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Yeah, sorry, I was getting a leeeeeeetle bit frustrated. This is not the first time I've attempted to explain the problem with using the word "synthesis" by itself, and no matter how many times or ways I attempt to explain the concept nobody seems to understand or, more to the point, even pay attention to me. Yelling and being rude, while incivil, at least gets people's attention. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 05:20, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you, Yukichigai: the noun and verb have slightly different meanings. In the two primary definitions listed above, one contains the word "new" and the other does not; this agrees with my own intuitive idea of what the words mean. This distinction is quite relevant here. Regardless of that, a Wikipedia article is obviously supposed to be a synthesis. --Coppertwig 21:52, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Where to discuss massive dubious sources?

Is there a forum where some sources may be discussed for reliability? In the context of a single article, it may be decided within this article. But what is a source is quoted in a large number of articles for various topics?


My question is triggered by the following issue I sumbled upon Talk:Qazakh, where credibility of a certain "Andrew Anderson" was heavily questioned. It seems that this professor does not have a single peer-reviewed publication (at least his defenders provided none), but it turns out that wikipedia is filled with references to his self-published website. So instead of leading the same debate in 40+ pages, I would like to resolve the issue in one page.

Please comment, both on the particluar case and the applicable forum. `'mikka 01:15, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Quite realistically, the appropriate forum probably is the article's talk page, with the specific context of what the source is being used for. A given source is not necessarily always reliable or always not, it may be very reliable for certain areas and not so reliable outside its area of focus or expertise. Of course, if it's decided that a source is not reliable in a certain area it's been used for, that discussion could certainly be noted when discussing other articles that use it in a similar vein. Of course, there are some baselines (must be fact-checked/editorially controlled/peer-reviewed in some way, self-published sources should be used with great caution, etc.), that apply across the board. Seraphimblade Talk to me 05:22, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for detailed but useless advice. This is a specific example of a self-published source by an author without verifiable credentials extensively used in numerous wikipedia articles. Obviously some people are pushing him here strongly. I don't want to spend 3 months endlessly repeating the same arguments in each of 40+ talk pages. I want this source in or out once and for all. The question is: how I can do this? `'mikka 18:05, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
One possibility is to choose one of the article talk pages, open a discussion section there, then put notes on all the other article talk pages inviting people to come to the one selected article talk page and discuss the specific issue there. --Coppertwig 21:54, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Good idea <banging on my own head with a volume of EB for stupidity>. It is even easier than that: as I said, the issue has already been discussed for over a month in Talk:Qazakh. `'mikka 23:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Mikka, the professor can be used even as a self-published source if he's writing within his own area of expertise and if he's a widely acknowledged professional expert in that field. He can also be used in his own article. Anywhere else, it's not allowed, and the amount of links you pointed out do look like spamming. Coppertwig's idea is a good one. Pick one of the talk pages to post your query on, then invite people on the other pages to comment there. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:14, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, you are the second person in this section who gives an advice without reading the question. The discussed professor does not show any traces of acknowledgement of his expertise despite a long talk in Talk:Qazakh. `'mikka 23:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Anderson links: maps:Most of the material linked to from this site on WP consists of maps from his site According to the site, there are many maps prepared specially for the site: their credibility would depend upon his. But there are also links to major historical atlases,including the maps at the extremely reliable Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas, a world-famous collection. But, as as would only be expected, all the the maps publicly available on this site and other atlases are pre 1925, and out of copyright. For maps that come ultimately from the Perry-Castanada site, the link should be changed to reflect the authentic location --which is better than any other possible link. The ones that come from his web site only are of course another matter. I just note that this site does not focus on Armenia and neighboring countries, so it is not a single-issue location. By the way, what is the evidence that this is his personal site?--it doesnt show any atttribution.DGG 16:00, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Random idea - Attribution (Fiction)

Lately, I've been on the bad end of violating WP:ATT. The problem? I've been writing about a fictional source. I'm not saying that there should be a WP:ATTFIC right now (although it would certainly solve quite a few problems for me, heh), but something could be said about making an official policy that allows, say, the fictional topic's source material to be used without some people getting all uppity about it. Hell, at least one featured article, supposedly one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community, uses its source material for almost all of its citations. I already can expect how this article is going to go, but feel free to discuss. Scumbag 02:54, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Eek, I didnt notice the 'There are no policy innovations suggested' line, so I'm not sure if I'm in the wrong for suggesting this here. Sorry if I am. Scumbag 02:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
The fiction work itself can be used as a primary source for information within that source, however, any source of interpretation or synthesis of that source would need its own reliable source. HighInBC(Need help? Ask me) 02:57, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, but the problem is that where I see using a primary source for information, other people are seeing interpretation or synthesis. Never mind that the information is literally "Look at this. See this? This is what is being said." Sigh. Scumbag 03:01, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
It's a lot easier to step over the line into synthesis then you might think, when using only a primary source. "Darth Vader kills Emperor Palpatine in order to save his son, Luke." That may seem trivial and obvious, but "just from watching the movie", it is synthesis-you don't know what was going through Vader's head. (Nor just from the original movies is it even certain that Vader is Luke's father-he says so, and Luke and Leia believe him, but that's not actually confirmed until later additions to the canon storyline.) On the other hand, of course, "Star Wars Magazine states that Vader killed Palpatine to save his son, Luke" is perfectly alright-it's attributed to someone besides "The editor who wrote this here interprets it so". That's why we should always work mainly from secondary sources, not primary. It's too easy to step into synthesis, and what can be said without it is dry and obvious. Seraphimblade Talk to me 04:42, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Quote. Use quotes in the article. Use larger quotes in the ref/notes section to show context. WAS 4.250 04:50, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Scumbag, if you want to say which article it is, we can take a look. SlimVirgin (talk) 13:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

An NP-complete problem (not evident information, but easily verifiable)

I have something I wish to add to an article that I discovered on my own. The crux of the problem is that while the information is rather nontrivial, it is very easy to verify on one's own. For those of you with an interest in computer science out there, it's analogous to an NP-complete problem.

Specifically, I'm thinking about adding something to the article on Simlish. When a sim leaves their house, they often say "dag dag". I noticed a while back that if you perform a ROT2 on "bye bye", you end up with "dag dag". Such an observation would never reach a reliable source because it's too isolated and, after all, when was the last time you read a peer-reviewed article on Simlish? Nevertheless, once you see that the two phrases are so simply related, it seems quite obvious that the developers had that relation in mind. So which side to the argument wins out? Is it unconditionally shot down as original research, or is it instead so trivial a fact that it doesn't even need citation because anyone can instantly verify it? I'm more interested in learning how the NOR policy applies here than getting my observation "published". Thanks.--134.173.200.107 06:53, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

That kind of thing is definitely original research, and may not even be true; see what Arthur C. Clarke said about the naming of HAL 9000:
"I've been trying for years to stamp out the legend that HAL was derived from IBM by the transmission of one letter. But, in fact, as I've said, in the book, HAL stands for Heuristic Algorithmic, H-A-L."
--NE2 07:19, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
The statement "it seems quite obvious that the developers had that relation in mind" is more problematic here than the fact that ROT2("bye bye") = "dag dag". (P.S. for me it is quite obvious that one of the developers was fond of the Netherlands because "dag" is Dutch for "bye"...) —Ruud 20:35, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
It's OR, but it's the kind of thing that probably no one would mind, but if someone challenged your edit, you'd need to provide a source — any edit challenged or likely to be challenged needs a source. So it boils down to whether you think the claim is "likely to be challenged." SlimVirgin (talk) 14:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

This merger is a really bad idea

Merging "Wikipedia:Verifiability with Wikipedia:No original research, while also streamlining Wikipedia:Reliable sources into a simpler FAQ at WP:ATT/FAQ" was a big mistake, and the result is completely incoherent. This needs to be reverted immdiately because it is just wrong. It is bad policy all around, and this is not the right way to make policy.

Verifiability and No Original Research are conceptually distinct: they are different things, not the same things. Reliable sources, too, is quite different from the other two, although arguably a subset of Verifiability. The resulting confusion is apparent in many arguments around Wikipedia, as editors are getting confused about two very different concepts.

There is no logical reason for the merge, as the information contained in this unified policy can be more sensibly separated back out into the two separate policies.

As a first step, I am removing the claim on this page that is supercedes the other two, and restoring the other two to their rightful place in the pantheon of Wikipedia.--Jimbo Wales 15:27, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Wow, we discussed this merge for weeks, this input would have been useful earlier, though you have been very busy of late. I can't say I disagree with you though. HighInBC(Need help? Ask me) 15:28, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Amen to that...with all due respect, you couldn't have said this months ago and saved a ton of editors a ton of work? So much for consensus. --Minderbinder 15:42, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Quite the opposite of "so much for consensus". This radical change was made without any consensus at all. If people really want this, then they need to make a serious effort to get consensus, not just declare victory and make the changes. --Jimbo Wales 16:00, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
So why didn't you object sooner? Or is this really the first you've heard of this merge? --Minderbinder 16:05, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
There has been a lot of discussion about this (see the archives and the note at the top of this talk page). Ultimately it might not make much difference, but to avoid the fruit of future long, involved discussions being reverted like this, can it be made clearer how policy is made around here. Thanks. Carcharoth 15:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I take virtually no position on the details of WP:ATT. I think that it probably was a more or less accurate merger of the three separate policies. But merging three separate policies into one, even when that change is not intended to make any actual policy change, is not trivial and in this particular a monumentally bad idea. All over the site are hundreds or thousands of links to these policy pages, and the meaning of referring someone to WP:V versus WP:RS versus WP:NOR are overwhelmingly important to a coherent understanding of the arguments people are making. We must not merge these separate concepts, or we have no means of distinguishing them. Not everything is the same thing.--Jimbo Wales 15:56, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I totally agree with your actions returning these pages to policy, I was as bold and reverted WP:V back to policy in February, I was reverted by a sysop quite soon after, personally I don't think that these had the community's backing, I myself certainly hadn't heard of them prior. Matthew
Fair enough. I don't really have that strong an opinion either way. Most attribution issues can be resolved with common sense. It is often better to engage with someone and explain things to them, rather than revert with a link to a policy page (the policy pages always confused me and still do - common sense always worked better for me - what is the best way to source this particular edit so that people will be happy with it and not remove it). Educating new users partly involves them reading policy pages, but also requires them to 'get it' by interacting with other editors. As regards the confusion with old links, the shortcuts were redirected to the relevant section, as you will have seen here. Also, thinking back, I remember the concept of the three core policies being very easy to grasp. I would have been more confused if I'd arrived here and found the current set-up, so on balance I'm finding myself agreeing with what you are doing here. Carcharoth 16:11, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Discussed, but obviously no consensus formed. We can't make policy by someone forcing his idea onto the policy page.
In any case, certain core principles of this web site can't be changed even if a "consensus" appears to form to do so. Jimbo controls the site.
More to the matter at hand, though, in order to be "neutral" on a disputed matter we must provide (1) verifiable information about the 2 (or more) sides and avoid (2) any attempt to reconcile these sides through synthesis, analysis, epiphanies, etc.
No one of us contributors can say, "I've got it! The true viewpoint about X is ..." It's tempting, but it's not encyclopedic. --Uncle Ed 15:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I previously expressed a view that is essentially sympathetic with Jimbo's actions here. The former separate pages had a rather significant "punch" as policy.... especially for new users. (Netscott) 15:52, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No comment. — Deckiller 15:58, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Reliable Sources was a guideline before the merge, now it's been made a policy. Was that intentional? - Ehheh 16:09, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't know, but someone should change it back. - Peregrine Fisher 16:17, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I'd do it, but the page was locked. Odd that SlimVirgin felt that protecting the redirect was necessary... --badlydrawnjeff talk 16:20, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo, I have to take issue with your statement: "This radical change was made without any consensus at all. If people really want this, then they need to make a serious effort to get consensus, not just declare victory and make the changes"... The idea behind this merger was raised on all of the relevant policy and guideline pages quite a while ago... and was heatedly debated for a LONG time. As someone who regularly worked on the old RS page, and who originally opposed this idea, I was aware of it for several months before the merger actually took place. It was due to the extensive discussion and consensus building involved that I came around to supporting it. LOTS of people participated in creating this, and I feel that the result is indeed a reflection of consensus. There is not unanimity about the merger... but consensus does not require unanimity. Finally, if we reverted back to having three seperate policies we end up facing the same issue we have before the merger... Those policies often contradicted each other. Blueboar 16:20, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
That's all well and good, but as someone who watched and checked the WP:NOR page almost daily for 6 months preceeding the supposed "consensus merger" I never was made aware that a new policy was being proposed. Now to be fair, I can sometimes be oblivious, but I would not overlook something like, say, a notice that there is a proposed policy merge in giant letters at the top of WP:V and WP:NOR. Not making it painfully and blatantly clear to everyone who even came near the WP:NOR and WP:V pages that a merger had been proposed was something I never would have expected, as is how the WP:RS guideline was suddenly elevated to policy status when the merge happened. I completely agree with Jimbo here: (not that my opinion exactly has much weight, but what the hell) the only reason this merger got so far is because a number of admins said "this is how it's going to be," and it's really hard for us common folk to find the nerve to go toe to toe with people who can ban you for "disrupting a policy page." -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 21:07, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I am sure this was a good faith discussion/"decision". But I think special care is needed changing policy structure in this way. All three of the talk pages gets endlessly clogged up with "what about this case" help type questions and are hard pages to watch continually "just in case" something radical is being cooked up. I think the change has made it worse and that given the importance there wasn't enough discussion/consensus. I was also bothered by the merger removing the archived discussions which are the best place to point people who ask help type guidance. HOWEVER there is a problem on WP that there is so much discussion if we all tracked everything none of us would write any articles let alone live...perhaps there needs to be some page somewhere where "important policy changes" get presented as green pages (in UK gov terminology) so everyone sees them when they are formulated without having to watch everywhere for the next bolt of lightening. --BozMo talk 16:33, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Are people still using WP:CENT or not? The archived discussions for each policy should still be available somewhere. You will just need to link to them, though best to wait and see what happens here first. Carcharoth 16:49, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I must also mention the defensive stance of some professional "policymakers", who probably have a special mindset to resist any changes. This is probably good (stability), but my several attempts at several times were rejected by the arguments which were basically "we don't like it". Please note that I was not even told that these issues were discussed before (they were not. I can read thank you). I suspect I was not alone who was brickwalled, so I strongly disagree that it was "consensus" and I would strongly recommend to change the attitude of "professional policymakers" to casual contributors treated as nuisance (that was my feeling). Please dont' read this as whining; I have a thick skin. I am worried that such an attitude prevents from expanding the circle of policymakers beyound tough and seasoned wikilawyers and thus narrows the set of points of view and moves away from true consensus. `'mikka 17:19, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I am really shocked by your statement, Jimbo. This proposal was worked out for more than four months and also discussed in En-Wiki, before it was promoted to policy. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 17:31, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

* When the archeologists dig through the last four months of Wikipedia archives to look at the patterns, they will see -- not four months of "working things out" -- but four months of a dedicated localized consensus faction of editors beating from the discussion page with "move on" anybody who pointed out the obvious 1) incoherence and 2) lack of consensus. What we need here is an operational definition of "consensus" that reflects the NPOV standards of the general Wikipedia community. Such an operational definition of "consensus" might be structurally equivalent to a constitution that could not be manipulated by a localized consensus faction of editors against the NPOV values of the community of the whole. --Rednblu 19:46, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Maybe 'consensus' means, "You better go along with us, or else we'll kick you out." Which would mean it's no consensus at all, really, but a kind of editorial astroturfing. --Uncle Ed 20:00, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I am neutral about whether merging policies is appropriate, but I am not pleased that we are back to saying "Verifiability" when we really mean "can be found in a reliable source" and saying "Original research" when we really mean "can't be found in a reliable source". I think it is quite disconcerting for newcomers to have to deal with the idiosyncratic definitions for these terms used in Wikipedia. --Gerry Ashton 17:54, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Okay, my extremely harebrained, tired-at-this-point-of-the-evening comment is simple: Duh, Verifiability and NOR polices are the same. NOR is essentially a corollary, an illustration, or a flipside, of what Verifiability boils down to: If we demand Verifiability through sources, then by definition we cannot have Original Research, which has no sources at all. If you really think about it, WP:NOR has no reason to exist at all, except to practically illustrate a special case of WP:V that will crop up a lot, and has cropped up a lot. Obviously the policies should illustrate special cases too (Just about every legislation has laws on "generally you shouldn't harm other people physically" and "don't you dare to go around killing people"), but whether we need a separate policy, that's another discussion at another time.
Personally, I don't see the existence of WP:NOR and WP:V alongside WP:ATT a problem, however; if we have subarticles in the main namespace, who says we can't have "subpolicies" in the project namespace? Perhaps we could label WP:NOR and WP:V with a new template that says stuff like "This page documents a subpolicy of an official Wikipedia policy on Attribution, and contains further discussion on the specific details of that policy." I think that was more like the idea of the original WP:ATT merger, and Jimbo just got mad because something was marked superseded with a giant red X. *sigh* Please don't flame me. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 18:03, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo Wales wrote, above, "Verifiability and No Original Research are conceptually distinct: they are different things, not the same things."
Wwwwolf wrote "Duh, Verifiability and NOR polices are the same." I'd say they are both right, depending on your point of view. If you use the terms as they are often used in Wikipedia, they are orthagonal: that which is not verifiable is original research. But in the world at large, verifiable is that which can be confirmed by any means, including interviews, travel, scientific experiment, and reliable publications. Original research is the creation of knowledge which has not been previously recorded anywhere. Not only that, original research is conducted by a researcher, and it is not original research to quote work that was conducted by another person. Wikipedia consistently disregards the distinction between an editor conducting original research, and an editor quoting original research conducted by someone else. Just because both instances, under some conditions, may not be appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia articles does not mean they are the same thing. --Gerry Ashton 18:43, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Sure you can hold both WP:V and WP:NOR up and look at them seperately, but you can also hold them up together and see how they overlap and affect each other. It was this overlap that eventually caused me to support this merger. With two (three, if you count WP:RS - which while technically only a guideline, was quoted by the community as if it were policy) policies covering overlaping areas, it was very easy for them to conflict. The editors contributing to WP:V could reach a consensus on how that guideline should be worded or applied in a given situation, only to find that the editors contributing to WP:NOR had reached a very different consensus on a similar situation. We have enough problems agreeing on Policy, we do not need to be having the argument on disparate pages. With only one policy, we get everything discussed in one location. Hell, I would actually take this merger a step further... I think we should Roll WP:NPOV in with these... and have one single all inclusive POLICY... We could call it "Wikipedia:Core policy". Blueboar 19:02, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
But I think this points the way directly towards what is wrong with this. We might as well have a single policy for everything, and just call it "WP:write an encyclopedia". But there is a reason to have different policy pages, and a reason not to wrap everything into one big page. It is of course useful and instructive to compare these pages, and I am all for that. I really like the idea of a page which does that. But that does not imply that we should deprecate the old policies, which emerged organically for good reasons over many years, without a much more formal process to implement the change. Fortunately, so far, the merger has not resulted in a degradation of the conceptual separation. But putting different sorts of policies on the same page is bound to do that.
For the record, I will wholeheartedly endorse and approve of community consensus on this matter, whatever it may be. But I do not think we have consensus here, and I think we need a much more formal process before engaging in a wholesale change to such fundamental policy structures.--Jimbo Wales 20:22, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo, I can see that you aware that ATT is simply a merger WP:V and WP:NOR. But please note that WP:RS was never policy and most certainly did not have community consensus to remain as a guideline (check the history of that page). The effort we made over the last five months was to consolidate into a simple formulation the principles of NOR and V without changing well established policy. How do we evaluate consensus? by openly discussing a proposal over an extended period of time, seeking the involvement of as many editors as are willing, by engaging others via the En-Wiki mailing list, ad by moving slowly. We did all of that, and more. So, my question to you is: What did we miss to warrant an assessment of "I do not think we have consensus here"? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:35, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the merge. WP:NOR and WP:RS have always been nothing more than special cases of WP:V, and I would further state that WP:A itself is an expansion of WP:NPOV because an article cannot be neutral while giving weight to unattributed information. Our content policies are all facets of this same idealogy, and having them arranged to point out this cohesiveness is a good thing, not a bad one. If Jimbo wishes to command the redivision of these pages that is his entitlement, but I hope he has read the reasoning behind it. --tjstrf talk 20:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Jossi... I would disagree with you on whether there was or was not consensus for the old WP:RS... Yes, there was a lot of disagreement over individual sections of WP:RS and how they should be worded (not dissimilar to certain sections of this Policy) ... but the idea behind having WP:RS was certainly consensus. It was a guideline that was quoted so often that it had an impact of a Policy. That said... I think this policy incorporates so much of what was said in WP:RS that it serves the same purpose. Blueboar 20:58, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo... so that we can move beyond: "yes there is/no there isn't consensus"... you want a more formal process? OK... so what should that process be? Blueboar 21:00, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
IMO whatever the process be, the arguments "we worked 5 months" repeated over and over and over must be strictly forbidden. They only clutter this page. Any suggestions must be discussed in its merits. `'mikka 21:04, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm getting sick to death-and-beyond of that so-called argument myself. If 5 bank robbers conspire for 5 months to pull of a big heist, does all that work somehow make the result any less criminal or any more praiseworthy?  :-) (Sadly, in Hollywood terms, it probably does judging from the popularlity of heist caper movies and their endless remakes.) Seriously, though, enough with the put-upon act. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:12, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't always agree with the ideas Jimbo has, but he's convinced me as well that this merge isn't the best idea. While I had no major objections at first, I was a bit reluctant about the merge. At first I thought it was just a reaction to the change itself, but now I have a little bit more faith in my reservations about the merge. I was also worried that this might not be getting enough attention, even with the advertising that had been done. It's really easy to be a dedicated editor who edits daily and still miss something big.

So maybe we can keep this page as an alternative intro or something to that extent, but I find myself agreeing with the concerns Jimbo has brought up. I know there's going to be a straw poll and some more structured discussion about this later on, but I just wanted to show my support for continuing discussion. -- Ned Scott 06:39, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Time for a straw poll?

Well, in the course of twenty four hours, we've typed an awful lot. How about a straw poll, at Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll, to get a ballpark idea of what people are thinking about the future of these pages - after which we readjourn to this talk page and debate the merits of specific proposals for what will eventually happen. This way, we can quickly get some ideas of what people are thinking and then refine these ideas via discussion, which will, hopefully, lead to a consensus on the issue. How does this sound? (Anybody who rants about how polls are evil instead of participating will be whacked with a wet trout.) Picaroon 21:14, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree, I think it would be a better to get some firm facts as to what everyone is thinking, it will make discussion much easier for the next step Ryanpostlethwaite contribs/talk 21:23, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I very much support a straw poll. In the meantime, after an excellent discussion with SlimVirgin, we hammered out a compromise until we can have a fuller discussion. What the pages say now is that WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those. My big beef with this merger is that we often need to send people to a page like WP:NOR which explains in a rich and persuasive way what the policy is about and why it is a good idea. This involves sometimes saying things which overlap with parts of WP:V. (They are not the same idea!) The combined page provides a handy way to keep policy consistent and have a tight presentation of what policy actually is. The separate pages can be more detailed and understandable.--Jimbo Wales 21:35, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Bingo. That's pretty much my concern in a nutshell. We still need the NOR and WP:V pages. Well put, Jimbo. - Ta bu shi da yu 08:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
How are the two different, exactly? (All I've ever heard is that WP:NOR basically exists to tell people that "I saw it myself!" is not a valid way of attributing/verifying information.) --tjstrf talk 21:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Straw poll is fine provided the question is specific. It is best to keep policy pages short. We refer people to them on specific matters (especially from Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Spam on people who keep adding links to their sites) and the talk pages work as pretty good FAQs on those matters. "Super" policy pages may have sections on each relevant matter but the talk pages are a dogs breakfast. So if you want to go for a big attribution page prepare a small army of helpdesk type people for the FAQs on the talk pages even if just to refer to the last bit of archive. Got an army? If so send them to Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Spam where they could help... if not then don't try and merge them. --BozMo talk 22:29, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm in agreement that the merger was not handled as well as it could have been. When I first heard about it, it was already in process. There were posts here that there had been "lots of discussion," but when I asked for links to these discussions, nothing was provided. So I'm glad that the issue is being re-opened. --Elonka 22:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I've done some consistency and bias removal on the poll page. Also restored its talk page (was a redir to this talk page, but should be separate so that issues about the poll can be discussed separately from issues about these policies.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:56, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
  • m:voting is evil. Yes, this is a convoluted issue, and no, polling won't resolve it either. >Radiant< 10:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Another suggestion

One suggestion I have, after reading the comment about overlapping discussion on the talk pages of the separate policies. When they overlap a lot, and a merger is not thought suitable for whatever reason, is it not possible to have the talk pages merged? Or would that be too confusing. What I was thinking is that the talk page for Wikipedia:Attribution could also be the talk page for WP:V and WP:NOR? Also, regarding overlapping policies in general, Jimbo, are you aware of WP:LAP? If more policy streamlining is going to happen, that might be a good place to advertise. Carcharoth 22:38, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that would be unbearably confusing. The few places I see this (e.g. Template talk:Ref harv) I can see what the rationale was, but it is still confusing and jarring. Especially since it breaks the "x page" tab (the thing to the left of the "discussion" tab). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
While seeking consensus on multiple discussion pages can be confusing, this discussion page is rather hi-traffic. Breaking up the discussion at least would probably be a good thing. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:08, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

It wasn't a proper process for a major policy change.

User Jimbo Wales, I'm really glad to see your note: another user chiming in on the side of criticizing the action, which some editors tried to carry out, of merging longstanding policy pages.

My main concerns are that I'm strongly against some of the wording in this new, proposed policy, and that there was not a proper procedure followed for a major change in policy such as this proposed merge.

The discussion was not wide enough. Because there was no merge tag on, for example, Wikipedia:Verifiability during the months of development of Wikipedia:Attribution, many people who should have been included in the discussion were not aware of it and were not included.

In spite of the narrower scope of discussion, no proper consensus was ever achieved. People claimed that "there was consensus", but it's hard to determine what, if anything, was meant by that. Apparently it didn't mean that there were no objections; it didn't mean that there were no strong objections; it didn't mean that all the objections had been discussed; it didn't mean that the people objecting "consented" to the new wording; it didn't mean that there was any poll to count the number of people objecting or the number supporting the new wording; it didn't mean that the consensus wording was developed by allowing people to freely revert the wording if they didn't like it. Did it mean anything?

What actually happened was that objections were expressed; there was little or no in-depth discussion of the objections (at least one question was left completely unanswered, for example), and it was declared that "there is consensus" even though there were some disagreements. (See the "It doesn't look to me as if there was a consensus." section on this talk page for a list of some objections that were raised shortly before "consensus" was declared.)

Consensus is supposed to mean that disagreements are identified and recognized; there is discussion of the disagreements; there are attempts at compromise or at finding solutions that satisfy everyone; and finally that those who disagree are asked for their "consent" to proceed in spite of their objections. This didn't happen, even among those who were involved in the discussion.

There was a merge tag on Wikipedia:Verifiability for only about 8 days, I think. That's far too short a time period. People need time to notice the merge tag, and to go through the long archives of discussion to see whether their concerns have already been discussed, before formulating a response. Even ordinary article pages are suppposed to have merge tags for 2 weeks, I think. Policy pages need a much slower process.

I will still need more time, if it is decided to keep the new page, to think over various parts of the new page, compare it to the older pages and see whether there's anything I'd like to contribute, comment on or object to. However, I think the original purpose of the merge was to reduce the number of pages, so if the other pages are kept as user Jimbo Wales suggests (and he has a good point about the meaning of links to the various pages), then perhaps it makes more sense to demote Wikipedia:Attribution to historical interest. --Coppertwig 17:27, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

"Original research"

Following quote from Jimbo, in reference to a section of an article which draws on court filings[2]:

I removed the section about the lawsuit as being (quite blatantly) original research of the sort that Wikipedia must avoid. This is actually an excellent example of what is wrong with original research in Wikipedia -- by drawing selectively on sources, the section gave an impression that is significantly at odds with the views of relevant parties to the dispute, so that WP:NPOV was badly violated.
Wikipedia should not be held hostage by people who are doing original research in support of an agenda. If it is reported in some reliable source, then we can report on that. But we do not engage in original research

This seems to conflict with the idea of "original research" that is provided here. Citing primary sources without drawing novel conclusions from the sources isn't OR. Or should we go ahead and delete everything drawn from primary sources, per Jimbo's ruling? Guettarda 15:50, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Guettarda, perhaps you misunderstood me because I was not clear. The issue is that original conclusions were being drawn. The result was a synthesis of facts that was significantly objected to by the subject of the biography. This is what is wrong with original research. I am not aware of making any ruling here.--Jimbo Wales 16:04, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Citing primary sources needs to be done with care. Selective citing can be misleading. Citing sources is no good if you don't present a balanced picture. That, at the end of the day, is what WP:NPOV is about - presenting a balanced picture. The sources allow verifiability, but the editorial decisions about what weight to give each part of an article determines the balance of an article. Personally, despite the punchiness of WP:NPOV, the phrasing 'neutral point of view' can be extremely misleading, as people think it means being neutral, when in fact it means presenting all relevant points of view with the appropriate weighting. Carcharoth 16:01, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
The problem is what is being done with the primary sources, not the sources themselves. The problem is that too often editors draw (or strongly imply) a conclusion based upon primary sources. That is clearly wrong. However, I don't think we can completely ban primary sources. In some cases (such as articles relating to Medieval history) they are the best and most reliable sources we have. They can also often be used reliably (and appropriately) as citations to back statements of opinion. The issue is agendas not sources. Blueboar 16:05, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Summaries of legal cases seem to be prone to selective quoting. I've seen a few articles which quoted parts of testimony without mentioning the rebuttal, nor the judge's instruction clarifying what parts of the testimony were relevant to which parts of the case. Arguments in a filing may not be found acceptable in court. If possible, better to use a case summary from a law journal. Gimmetrow 16:13, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh Christ, I might have known it was bloody Langan again - that man has attracted more vanity and POV-pushing edits than any ten other articles combined, I reckon. Anyway, I for one did not take part in the supposed ocnsensus to merge the three here because last time I looked there were a lot of people saying "nice in theory, but..." and it looked set to die a death, so I left it at that. Wherever the discussion was advertised, I did not see it. I saw the announcement but never thought to check the claim that it was based on consensus. I don't think having WP:NOR and WP:V separate is at all problematic, and if WP:RS were to be merged back into an attribution guideline which referenced slimmed-down versions of WP:OR and WP:V, wich lost all the examples in the process, I'd think Jimbo would be happy enough. In as much as there was ever a problem that needed fixing, it was always with WP:RS. Guy (Help!) 20:48, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

The section is question seems to fairly reflect the sources, so no, it wasn't that there were novel conclusions drawn from the sources. In addition, Jimbo explicitly said that the information could only be re-added if "secondary sources" were used. How is that not redefining OR? Guettarda 16:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

It was done upside down

I looked into talk archives of the page and its history and I have to express an opinion it was done upside down from the very beginning. In my strong opinion the priorities of the "core principles" are out of logic.

The very groundlaying principle (judging by its title, not content) is wikipedia:Verifiability. Wikipedia's goal is not to attribute everything to someone, not to ban kooks, not to straighten out POV-pushers. Its goal is to deliver sound information (I am not saying "correct information"; this was already discussed quite extensively: wikipedia itself cannot guarantee truth, strange as it sounds).

Now, what is the source of sound information? It is agreed that wikipedians are not. It is agreed that the only way to ensure this in wikipedia is by citing reliable sources. Hence WP:RS is #2. Yes I know it is a guideline now. It must be done into policy. Specifically, there should be 3 parts in it: (1) definition of RS, (2) list of types of sources 100% identifiable as reliable and (3) a procedure to identify exceptions and possible expansions of the RS types.

WP:ATT (WP:CITE) and WP:NOR are the implementation and corollary respectively from the core 2 principles.

Before going any further, let's start from reaching the consensus about what is at the very core. I may be wrong in my opinion expressed above, but IMO the talks must start thusly. `'mikka 17:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. As I said above in a bit edit-conflicty way, WP:NOR is definitely a corollary of WP:V: If we demand sources, you can't publish sourceless research here. The giant big problem with having V/NOR/RS instead of just ATT is that we shouldn't really need to say the exact same thing in three different ways. But we could say it, just in case someone is confused, and refer to WP:ATT as the practical guide. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 18:09, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but the premise remains that the merger was discussed for over 5 months, and has wide support. Jimbo's comment does not detract from that. I do not see a "revert back to pre-ATT" as a viable, unless five months of discussions and collaboration count for nothing. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:29, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
If it's worth anything, I was at least as active as mikkalai during that time period, and was rather blindsided by the whole merger until essentially right before it. I do question the wide support, but I also didn't really see much in the way of major changes, which is why I didn't pursue it further. --badlydrawnjeff talk 18:32, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm in "violent agreement" with that. The nicest things I think I can say about the merger are that it was poorly handled, it blindsided an enormous number of people, and does not have nearly the consensus that its proponents claim. That grumble said, the cat is already on a roll, so we just have to make this make sense instead of directly undoing it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:03, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
It will be a very sad day for Wikipedia, if five months of sustained collaboration by a substantial number of well meaning editors in good standing with the community, is thrown out of the window without a vigorous debate. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:14, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree completely, Jossi. We need to work to get consensus here and to have a vigorous debate. This is a really huge change to policy structure and it should not be done without that.--Jimbo Wales 20:26, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I am glad you think that way. Look forward to continue the work we have done here and debate the pros and cons of this merger. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:42, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
A "vigorous debate" which addresses arguments presented, not time and smartness spent. `'mikka 20:36, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I vigorously protest against the arguments along the lines "well meaning editors in good standing". Who am I then? A nasty troll with bad record? `'mikka 20:40, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Jossi, I am tired to repeat over and over again: your argument is invalid. Basically you are saying "we all are smart and you are a tardy (or retard)". This is not how consensus is built. You must address my argument, not my 5 month too late arrival. IMHO the 5 months of collaboration ended in poorly structured, repetitive and confusing text. So please ,<rm personal> answer on my indirect question above: what is the fundamental goal of wikipedia: to deliver sound information or to provide a text in which every piece is attributed? Please someone smarter with words than me explain them the fundamental difference between the two attutudes. `'mikka 20:32, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I will not reply to your comments, unless you engage civilly. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:43, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I've already seen your answer. I want someone else comment on my original proposal, which you refused to discuss in a very civilized and polite way. `'mikka 20:49, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
If it took five months, and it's not glaringly obvious that a consensus was reached, then maybe there was no consensus. Maybe it was more of a weary compromise, with no one having enough energy left to protest. That's not an agreement, and no basis on which to change policy.
What is so hard about a decision about attribution? Who wants weaker standards? Who wants stronger standards?
Who sees Wikipedia:Attribution as unrelated to WP:OR? Or who thinks everything is so clear and obvious that it can all be merged?
My angle is how "attribution" can be used (or abused) to give the illusion of consensus when something is actually a matter of dispute. It would be ironic if some people claimed there was "consensus on changing the policy about declaring there is a consensus" ;-) --Uncle Ed 21:11, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I disagree, mikka. Wikipedia:Verifiability/Wikipedia:Attribution is not the most important editorial policy, since we cannot together agree on the "truth". Neutrality is the most important editorial policy. (Neutrality is one of the Foundation issues, by the way.) Neutrality is a way for all of us, each with our own ideas of what the "truth" is, to come together an write articles we can all agree on. We don't have to write about what is true, just what people believe.

Verification is a corollary to neutrality. Having a source allows us to restate opinions ("Apple pie is the most delicious food ever!") as facts ("Mr. Gourmet Chef says 99% of his customers prefer apple pie over all the other deserts he makes.") It allows us to figure out how much we should talk about each opinion (consider degree of reliability and degree of weight). It is one way to determine if something is an opinion rather than a fact in the first place, i.e. when two sources of comparable reliability disagree.

Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 21:24, 20 March 2007 (UTC), 21:27, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

If NPOV is #1 all this does is shift everything else down by one number; I.e., it doesn't actually refute mikkalai's "outline" that I can see - V would simply be #2 and RS #3. It might be a good clarification (I'm remaining neutral, no pun intended, on that question), but I think the question mikkalai's raising remains open. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:03, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I am not sure what mikkalai means by "sound information". We can't achieve truth. We can't even achieve perfect neutrality (see Wikipedia:WikiProject countering systemic bias), but I think neutrality is the closest we can aim for. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 22:17, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Someone always complains about just about everything; consensus doesn't mean 100% agreement. Jayjg (talk) 22:19, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

The ATT aspect of the situation seems to have been settled (diff). AvB ÷ talk 22:26, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

And 'neutrality' is at the heart of the problem some people have with the phrase "NPOV". A balanced article is not the same as a neutral article. A neutral article avoids coming down on one side or the other. A balanced article uses reliable sources and editorial judgement to present relevant sides to an issue in the correct proportion and without undue weight. Sometimes that involves giving more weight to someone's criticism or rejection of something, and that can't be described as neutral. In other words, to get closer to real examples instead of generalisations, an article should present the 'mainstream' viewpoint, and the 'fringe' viewpoints would be present only as asides or footnotes. Due weight, following editorial judgement. Carcharoth 22:48, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Neutrality: sorry, I was not sufficiently clear. In my proposal I was setting priorities withing the tight bunch of WP:RS/WP:ATTR/WP:V/WP/CITE/WP:NOR. The WP:NPOV is a different facet of wikipedia. While it interacts with the WP:ATTR stuff, it is clearly separable, and let's not discuss it here at the moment. `'mikka 22:57, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I am sorry, I thought we were getting into the whole truth/verifiability/attributability/other discussion again. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:04, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
The paradox is that there seems to be no disagreement about the importance or details of all this stuff. The problem major is the presentation. `'mikka 23:49, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I hadn't read WP:NPOV in ages. It really is a good page now! I liked:"Debates are described, represented, and characterized, but not engaged in. Background is provided on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular. Detailed articles might also contain the mutual evaluations of each viewpoint, but studiously refrain from stating which is better. One can think of unbiased writing as the cold, fair, analytical description of all relevant sides of a debate." - still, due weight is the trickiest bit, and no policy will ever sort that out. Carcharoth 23:57, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm involved in a content dispute right now about an article that attributes almost every sentence to a source. It's a POV haven of a quote-farm. RS is definitely #2 on Wikipedia. Xiner (talk, email) 00:49, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Were there merge notices?

I've used the various policy/guideline pages a lot in the past few months, but don't remember a merge tag on any of them. That, if anything, would've been what was wrong with the process. If I were to do it, I'd have spammed even remotely related pages like WP:HD periodically to make sure the discussion reaches as many eyeballs as possible. I'm sorry five months of hard work appear to be for naught, but such a momentous change should not have caught so many people off guard. But that is now past, and I simply wish to suggest the above routes as additional means to gathering consensus. Xiner (talk, email) 23:37, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Indeed. This is the point I've been hinting at since my arrival here. Five months of work skulking in the basement with the intent or at least the effect of avoiding community attention and participation is five months of questionable work. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:31, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think anyone had that intent. Indeed, the proponents of this seem surprised that so many people were caught off guard by this. This is the result of Wikipedia being extremely large now. I think that the work done was valuable: my objection is primarily to the merger, not to the policy work itself. My own view is that WP:ATT as a consolidated and authoritative policy page can serve to ensure policy consistency, but that eliminating the separate explanatory pages of what are, in fact, different ideas, is not a good idea. I do not agree with those who take a strong reductionist position that all of these policies are really the same thing... at least not unless we are speaking in a very abstract way that all of our policies amount to "be good and do good work".--Jimbo Wales 05:33, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I would side with this view ("don't think anyone had that intent", specifically) myself except for the uncommunicative and sometimes hostile behavior of some of the proponents, as if daring someone to bring up WP:OWN, WP:CONSENSUS, etc. I am strongly reminded of several promotion-to-Guideline-without-consensus instances that the ArbCom have commented on, in frustratingly not-quite-authoritative terms (and not surprisingly involving some the same names from case to case). There seems to be an undercurrent of "I know what is right for Wikipedia and so do these other proponents, and we're just going to be recklessly bold and do it, and everyone else can go soak their heads" going on. The procedures for merging two or more pages are really, really simple, but weren't followed here, making it hard for me and some others here to say "oh, well, I guess it was just an oversight." The "surprise" that you note is possibly genuine but difficult to credit. How hard it is to slap a template on four pages? All that said, I don't disagree with "WP:ATT as a consolidated and authoritative policy page can serve to ensure policy consistency..."; I just disagree with the methods used to get us here. Worse could happen, I suppose; when it comes to the straw poll I won't be voting for a total revert. I just hope that my grumbles are understood and not dismissed as random noise. They are anything but random, and I basically just don't like the precendent being set here (reinforced, actually). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:23, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
New example of that attitude in action. The edit history of WP:ATT is chock-full of these. Talk pages exist for a reason.
There were no merge tags on the policy pages, no. It was, however, discussed first on the wiki-en mailing list, on Wikipedia:Village pump (policy), on the talk pages of WP:V, WP:NOR and I think WP:RS prior to commencing the project, with a link to the proposal and an invitation to assist, and links were placed in all of these places again soliciting comments after the work was, in the opinion of those who had been working on it, ready to become policy. It was also linked on Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Policies on at least one occasion. The usual approach for making policy is just to link once on Village Pump and RFCs. I don't think any shortcuts were taken, although I agree this is a more major change than most. JulesH 08:30, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I must ask, do you really think that all those pages will catch many eyes? Maybe for, gasp, policy wonks, but to the average Wikipedia editor? And the need for a merge notice should be self-evident. Xiner (talk, email) 00:04, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I am in full agreement with this statement. As a 12-month user of wikipedia, and having taken the time and trouble to educate myself on policy and often referring to the pages so I could quote them to new users, I had no idea any discussion of this kind was going on, and in fact found out weeks after the fact that it *had* happened by reading it on an article talk page. In trying to educate users about the change, noone seems to see it as particularly official and even those I have told that WP:ATT replaces WP:V are still using WP:V in deletion debates. Orderinchaos78 03:23, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

It reminds me of FAC where, in practice, "consensus" means "we think all major issues have been addressed." Nifboy 06:28, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Line-by-line criticism

Below is my opinion on the "5 month's work of well meaning editors in good standing". `'mikka 23:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

S 1

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a publisher of original thought

False dichotomy. Not follows from the definition of encyclopedia. `'mikka 23:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
You mean the compendium definition?"A compendium is a concise, yet comprehensive compilation of a body of knowledge." Possibly. Anyway, the sentence should read: " As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought." The original sentence you quote does still mean that, just not as clearly. It's a subtlety of the English language. Possibly the use of an em-dash (I'm amazed - there are half a dozen type of dashes I had never heard of...) would make it clearer that the second clause is following from the first: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia - not a publisher of original thought. Carcharoth 00:02, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
This sentence was good within WP:NOR (I guess it was borrowed from there), where it was, like, "nail, meet the hammer": wikipedia: No original research, period, no joking. But this page must start differently. Being the very fist sentence and lacking the context of the previous title "WP:NOR", after reading it, the impression is "Oh, really? what about great first encyclopedists who put an enormous amount of their own original thought? What about EB which is full of quite biased personal opinions of experts - authors of the articles?" or "Yup, so what? Of course wikipedia is not a publisher of cartoons or memoirs or something else, what's the big deal?" The issue is not that wikipedia is not publisher of clean-cut original thought, the issue is that the original thought is not allowed in any amount. `'mikka 00:18, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Oops. You've distracted me. I'm now reading Encyclopédie and Cyclopaedia. Interesting stuff. Carcharoth 00:35, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Yep, and a good exercise in the discussed policy, too. `'mikka 01:31, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
mikkalai makes a good point. The only one of our content policies that is inherent in the idea of being an encyclopaedia is Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not (and its ancillaries such as Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a dictionary). Verifiability and no original research are not inherent in the nature of encyclopaedias. They are consequences of the way that this particular encyclopaedia is written. See User:Uncle G/On sources and content#The Wikipedia model and sources and fact checking. Uncle G 19:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 2

The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true.

  1. The phrase is based on undefined things: what is reliable source? `'mikka 23:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
    • This sentence is in the summary section. Reliable source is defined below. JulesH 07:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    I think definitions should come first, or at the least there should be a link to the definition when a phrase if first used. --Philip Baird Shearer
  2. The statement contains a hidden pipe in its worst manifestation: [[WP:NOTTRUTH#Doesn.27t_Wikipedia_care_about_truth.3F|true]]. I bet one of 100 readers will click on the wikilink "true". `'mikka 23:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
    • Agreed; this link shouldn't be there, IMO. JulesH 07:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
  3. Again, the dichotomy is false: there is no counterpoint between "truth" and "attribution". The basic idea which should be expressed is that wikipedia does not judge the truth, it relegates this task to RS.
    • No dichotomy between truth or attribution is implied. JulesH 07:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
  4. IMO the choice of the word "threshold" is poor. "Threshold" is applicable when there is a wide, quantifiable gradation. In our case the word is "the criterion", i.e., "yes/no": either you have attribution or not.
    • "Threshold" is copied directly from WP:V, where it was discussed at some length. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:47, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
      Sorry to repeat again and again: this type of answer (repeated again and again) is not a valid one to any raised objections. Please comment on the merits of the objections, not on the long and painful history of policymaking. `'mikka 00:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
      On the contrary; Mikkalai's complaint is that the process of merger has changed policy. This is flat wrong; it hasn't even changed wording in most of these sentences; in some cases, it hasn't changed wording where it should have. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:03, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    • This is where it starts to go wrong. Wikipedia should aim to be reliable and accurate, and verifiability is the mechanism for ensuring that. Wikipedia is not Wikiquote, and attributing everything is not how Wikipedia got to where it is. If there is a serious external dispute about the accuracy of certain statements then that is the time to rely on attribution to both sides of the argument; but for most factual statements the capability of being fact checked (verifiability) should be the criterion. --Henrygb 01:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
      I am afraid you are confusing the terms "quoting" and "attributing". Of course I don't call for puting an inline ref at each and every sentence; just add the book into the "References" section and done with it. `'mikka 01:38, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
      Surely there is a page by now that helps people that don't know how to handle different styles of referencing? The stuff like "a single footnote at the end of a paragraph can cover the whole paragraph, instead of using five separate references for each sentence, and the footnote can go into detail about where to find the bits described in the paragraph". And the "have some general books listed in a bibliography section and refer to those for the 'obvious' stuff". Just be creative and the "but you want me to put a reference for every sentence" problems vanish like the smokescreen they were. Carcharoth 02:42, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
      See User:Uncle G/On sources and content#The requirement is only that the sources be cited somehow Uncle G 19:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
      Henrygb: please read WP:V again. Verifiability was defined there as "that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source." How is this different from what we have here? JulesH 07:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    • I see your objection, but disagree. I think the problem is more with the use of "the". This is only one threshold; there are many. JulesH 07:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    "that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source." In many cases this can be done by following the inline links and checking the informaiton in another article. This should be made clear here, because despite some editors insistance that all facts should be verifiable with outside sources in every article, in reality this is not how Wikipedia verifiability works. See Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability/Archive_16#Internal links to third party sources --Philip Baird Shearer 10:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Concerning point 4, the word "threshold": this is a good word, because it indicates that being attributable to a reliable source is a necessary, but not sufficient requirement. Even material that is attributable may not be suitable for inclusion for other reasons, such as undue weight to one position in a dispute, not being notable, or not being in agreement with a clearly superior source. --Gerry Ashton 02:56, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Please allow me to disagree. The word "threshold" is applied to a point within some gradual change of "something one". Like, "age threshold" or, say, within our context the threshold is the number of violated policies (attribution+"undue weight" is stil OK, but attrib+weight+"notability" violated together is a no-no, so the "threshold is 2", kinda three strike rule). Your example describes precisely the term "criterion", which is "a rule to make a decision". There may be several criteria. `'mikka 02:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

S 3

Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments.

Hidden circular logic: the wikilink pipes to WP:NOT, which is in its turn based in WP:NOR.
Good point. Carcharoth 00:08, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Disagree. The link directs users to a relevant page that provides useful information, and which is policy in its own right. That it links back to this page isn't a problem, IMO. JulesH 07:39, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Disagree with your disagree. The link redirects directly to the section Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not#Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought (a yet another example of abuse of wikilink piping IMO). And IMO it is strange for a policy to refer to its summary elsewhere: a plain waste of reader's time. On the other hand, if you wanted to bring in a reference to a yet another important policy, a proper way would be something like this: Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments (see Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not for other kinds of information inappropriate for Wikipedia). `'mikka 19:41, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

This item is moot now, since the removal of the wording that WP:ATT supercedes WP:NOR, with the redirect from NOR to ATTR killed. `'mikka 22:34, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 4

Although everything in Wikipedia must be attributable, in practice not all material is attributed.

1ts half is a repetition of the very nearby sentence #2. 2nd half must clearly give an impression that it is not OK, despite the "inpractice" clause, because this way of phrasing hints at cutting some slack: yeah, it is 65 mph speed limit, but 71.5 is usually OK. You cannot state policies in this way.
  • Again, half the problem is in attribution not verification. The other is -able. Statements in articles should be capable of being checked and providing sources helps that, with the onus being on the editor who introduces the statement. But when statements can be easily be checked, sources need not be included and, at least for unpolished articles outside WP:BLP, lack of sources is not in itself grounds for removing statements in articles. Lack of sources combined with other contra-indications (including general implausibilty) is more likely to be. --Henrygb 01:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    Sorry to disagree: "when statements can be easily be checked", sources may be added just as easily as that. What's the fuss? Just do it, and and done with it. `'mikka 01:34, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    WP:V used to have a guide to fact checking and told editors that providing sources would help other editors. Instead we are heading to a position which encourages mass deletion of useful content. --Henrygb 02:20, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    Here I have to agree with you, surprize :-) In case you didn't notice this is already happening, and I wanted to bring this issue to our attention as well, but unfortunately I have a short attention span. Glad you brought it in. When today's dust settles down I'd like to duscuss how this precaution must be incorporated into the policy. There is a huge amount of articles created in early days of wikipedia when there was no such drive for attribution, and now they are under the threat of AfD or butchering by overzealous purists. In early policies I remember there was something about "due diligence" of fact checking before deletion. After all, this is a collaborative effort. I'd suggest to think of incorporating this "due diligence" clause somewhere related to the implementation of the policy. `'mikka 02:35, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    User:Uncle G/On sources and content#How to deal with unsourced content continues to make that point, if it helps. ☺ Uncle G 19:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 5

Editors should provide attribution for quotations and for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, or it may be removed.

Wrong. Everything must be attributed. I may only guess that the author wanted to say that "not every sentence must be supplied with an inline reference". It is quite possible that some text is based on some thick book, possibly not readily available. It is quite natural that someone at the first glance may question some phrases. To preclude a possible waste of time on discussions, it does make sense to provide inline refs "for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged" in addition to the corresponding entry in the "References" section.
This point, and the above one, are more issues of editing practices. We don't want to discourage laissez-faire contributions from anon contributors, which dedicated long-term editors can later tidy up (wikify, format, correct layout, copyedit, and, gasp, attribute). We want to emphasise attribution without forcing people to include it everytime they write something. It is terribly tempting to write something and then leave it for someone else to tidy up. "Oh, no-one will challenge that. I'll come back and add some attributions later if anyone raises any objections". Of course, the right way to think about it is "If I could come back in 100 years time, would what I wrote still be here? Hmm. I'd better add some attributions if I want my contributions to be of any lasting value, and not merely swept out with the next bout of spring-cleaning." Personally, I agree, we should just make the rule that everything must be attributed, and then leave it unwritten that in reality people do add unattributed stuff that is only attributed and tidied up much later. Carcharoth 00:31, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
laissez-faire contributions from anon contributors most probably don't read our policies, don't worry about them. Anyway, I know what you are talking about, but as I was pointed out in this very talk page, "editing practices" belong to FAQ. `'mikka 00:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
It is silly to say that statments like "The sun rises in the east." or "The Thames flows through London" needs to be attributed in every article that mentions such a fact. This needs to be qualified with a statment like that in OR "— or which, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation." --Philip Baird Shearer 10:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
One of the better lines. Though I would say "reliable sources are required for attributed quotations and for ..." Attribution is simply X said "Y", and it is the source that matters. But if something is unlikely to be challenged because it is both accurate and uncontroversial then sources are less relevant. Take this edit [3] - I had never heard of the Vysochanskiï-Petunin inequality as such before that date, but I would have changed 5/9 to 4/9 and 0.062 to 0.04938 even without a source simply because it was wrong. On the other hand the √(8/3) comes from the source (which took some time to find). If the article had required a source before it was written nobody would have written it. Now we have a sourced article, exactly because we didn't insist on everything being sourced. --Henrygb 01:32, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, colleague, just as well I can bring you a dozen of examples when out of the blue an anon changes the population of Zanzibumbia from 200,000 to 210,000. Am I supposed to believe him just because it is so hard to find books about Western Murumbai? A policy is a policy is a policy. Any slack is at the discretion of editors. After all, we do have Be Bold and stuff, dont we? `'mikka 01:44, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Use real examples. You don't need attribution for saying the Battle of Trafalgar was a British victory. You may need a source for saying what is the GDP per head of Equatorial Guinea, because reliable sources disagree by a factor of 20.--Henrygb 02:10, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
"real examples": are you kidding me? I am reverting half a dozen of such examples daily. Please let me repeat again, please don't confuse "quoting" and "attribution". Please allow me to repeat again: a valid attribution would be one big thick book in the "References" section. It will cover all non-controversial text in one fell swoop. `'mikka 02:40, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't disagree with you, but nowadays people will slap {{Nofootnote}} on the article if you do that, citing this policy. --Conti| 02:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
If you list {{Nofootnote}} on TFD and let me know, I will gladly vote for it deletion. IMO it is an instrument of abuse for those who are lazy enough to place {{fact}} where they are needed. There are quite a few people whose 90% of edits are greeting of newcomers, spreading smileys, signing guestbooks, and having other fun, including wikilawyering and policing. `'mikka 03:17, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Inline attribution is not a requirement of this policy. If somebody is reading it as if it is, then they are very wrong. I quote the relevant section, excising unnecessary details and introducing highlighting: Material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and quotations, should be accompanied by a clear and precise citation, normally written as a footnote [...]; other methods [...] are also acceptable. JulesH 07:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Mikka wrote "a valid attribution would be one big thick book in the "References" section." This is very true, and I'm sure some inappropriate fact templates have been slapped on sentences because the person placing the template didn't have, or didn't read, the general references provided in the References section. At the same time, if one is writing an article on an advanced topic, such as integrated circuits, one might not feel the need to find a book on high-school level basic electricity to back up a fact that was too elementary to be mentioned in the integrated circuit texts. Such a basic fact would be attributable, but not attributed.--Gerry Ashton 03:05, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Please don't forget the power of wikilinks. If you are writing on an advanced topics and you need a "V = IR cos Phi", most probably there is a high-school level article to link to, where some college grad already provided a ref to his favorite teacher's textbook. `'mikka 03:17, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
As I read the policy, there is no need to attribute the elementary, uncontroversial fact, neither with a footnote, nor with a general reference, until such time as it is challenged. I would also argue that not only is that what the policy says, but that is what the policy should say, because attributing incidental facts that readers of the article probably know already is mere clutter, and does not benefit the reader. (By the way, V = IR cos Phi is at least freshman electrical engineering, not high school, and does not come up much in integrated circuits, since they operate on DC rather than AC power.) --Gerry Ashton 03:29, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
OK let's start from the very beginning, to establish a rapport. May be we are speaking about different things or I am not writing clearly to fit your train of thought. Please give me an example of an "elementary uncontroversial fact" and the context where it is mentioned. `'mikka 17:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
"There is no need to attribute the elementary, uncontroversial fact, neither with a footnote, nor with a general reference, until such time as it is challenged." Theoretically, yes. But we have enough people who challenge every sentence without a shiny <ref>-tag on principle, and so our de facto status (supported by this policy) is that we indeed have to cite absolutely everything with in-line citations. --Conti| 17:05, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. It is a very cheap price to add a reference to a general textbook than sit and watch the watchlist waiting for some troll to request a quotation to the fact that an average human has 10 fingers. Yes, you have to sit and watch and wait, because "a challenged material may be removed" per policy. Even a whole article may be tagged by {{prod}} and if you don't respond in a couple days it is gone with a whim. And I personally restored several such pages after noticing sudden appearance of red links in some articles. (It indicatess that certain areas of knowledge are understaffed in wikipedia.) `'mikka 17:45, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Funny, the two most obvious cases where "humans have ten fingers" is stated, I would actually consider worth referencing: Finger goes on to explain that "Some English speakers may consider the thumb to be a type of finger, leading to the conclusion that humans have five fingers on each hand. Others may consider the term 'finger' to apply only to those four digits that are medial to the thumb, leading to the conclusion that humans have four fingers on each hand," while Decimal states "It is the most widely used numeral system, perhaps because humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand, giving a total of ten digits over both hands.". Although extraordinarily rudimentary facts like that might not need refs by themselves, it's the act of putting it into context where refs matter. Nifboy 18:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Funny that my examples here hit the nail of the policy. After reading the above text in the article, I double-checked with dictionaries, and this is not what they say. The dictionaries say something like "One of the five digits of the hand, especially one other than the thumb." or "one of the five end parts of the hand, sometimes excluding the thumb". the key difference is that dictionaries say that in certain contexts (I guess when the distinction is important) we have 8 fingers, in others we have 10. A quick google check seems to confirm: when I want to play guitar, I have 4 fingers, but when I learn typing I have all 10 of them. In other words, the "Some English speakers" text smacks someone's interpretation, rather than fact. `'mikka 20:01, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 6

The burden of evidence lies with the editor wishing to add or retain the material.

Why don't you say it directly: "The burden of attribution"?
I agree. Carcharoth 00:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Because there is no consensus on attribution rather than verifiability. --Henrygb 01:33, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Please elaborate. If we don't have a consensus about attribution what the heck this very policy was doing here? Second, what type of "evidence" you have in mind other than attribution? `'mikka 01:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
My thoughts are in the talk archives. The policy should be about encyclopedic accuracy by making verification possible, not through mandatory attribution of everything. I cannot see a policy consensus on attribution in the archives either here or at WP:V, or in the general practice of editors. --Henrygb 02:14, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You are not answering my question. We are discussing a very specific phrase here: "The burden of evidence" vs. my version "The burden of attribution". If you give me an example of another kind of evidence admissible in wikipedia other than attribution, I will gladly close this item, because my goal was to be as specific as possible here. `'mikka 02:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Because "the burden of evidence" is a common phrase that captures the meaning we want to convey neatly. "The burden of attribution" will require readers to think about what we mean more, because it's an unfamiliar phrase. JulesH 07:51, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly because "the burden of evidence" is a common phrase, it requires the reader to think about what we mean more, because this phrase means different things in different contexts. In particular, the reader may stop pondering: are there other ways to provide evidence other than by attribution? Do you have an answer to this question in the policy? ""Because it is an unfamiliar phrase": if a person ener heard the "BurOfEv", they will readily recognize the meaning of "BurOfAttr". There is even a term for this kind of rhetorical device of slightly tweaking a common say (I cound not find it in wikipedia, though). `'mikka 18:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 7

If an article topic has no reliable sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on it.

"Should not" is sloppy wording. A reference to WP:AFD is required.
Possibly. Though Wikipedia:Deletion policy might be better. Carcharoth 00:10, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Note that it is the topic, not the article, being described. And that is how it should remain. --Henrygb 02:17, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes I noticed this. Note also the language: "article topic", implying that there is an article. Which "should not". Hence immediate relevance of a reference to Wikipedia:Deletion policy, which is quite cheap to insert. How else you can decide that "topic has no reliable sources" other than bringing the issue to a broad attention, unless you can read in all human languages and have read it all? `'mikka 02:25, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, there should be such a link here. JulesH 07:53, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
In what way is "should not" sloppy wording? JulesH 07:53, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I thought I had explained this in the next equally short sentence. Because it is incomplete: "should not", but it has. What shall we do? You and I know what to do but some users don't. A problem major is to find the place where a required policy sits in some cases even for experienced editors. `'mikka 18:15, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 8

Wikipedia:Attribution is one of Wikipedia's two core content policies.

  1. Must be the very first sentence, according to the long-standing tradition of wikipedia that the article title must be present in the first sentence (and I see no important reasons to do otherwise here).
    This entire paragraph was the first paragraph during an early draft of the writing process, but was moved down to its current location so that we could introduce the more important concepts of what attribution is and why it is important before discussing what it means that it's a policy. I'd suggest unbolding the page name in this sentence and introducing a new sentence at the start to introduce the concept if you think this is necessary. JulesH 07:58, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
  2. Why "two"? I've also seen this "policy counter" elsewhere. What if we decide on 3 of 4 later? Running around changing 2 into 3? (nitpicking, of course, but what the heck)
    Template:Number of core policies anyone? :-) Carcharoth 00:13, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    This is something I've argued about back at WP:V as well. IMO, WP:NOT is at least as much of a core content policy as the others, and I'm not alone in this opinion, either. I'd suggest removing the number to avoid the contention. JulesH 07:58, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
    And so is Wikipedia:Copyrights. Uncle G 19:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 9

The other is Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.

If S 8 moved on top, this must be uttered differently.
Again, I oppose moving this to the top, because it is less important than the information already above it. But I suggest a complete change, in line with my removal of the number of policies anyway. This paragraph needs a substantial rewrite, IMO. JulesH 08:02, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 10

Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles; that is, content on Wikipedia must be attributable and written from a neutral point of view.

Empty pseudosignificant statement:
  1. what the heck is "type and quality"? The words are so broad that meaningless, often used only to create an illusion of something improtant.
  2. The "that is" is a repetition (i.e., waste of reader's time and brainpower: I don't know about others, but when I read such things I am jumping from one sentence to another comparing them and painfully trying to figure out what important I (moron) am missing here, only to see that yep, the same exact words, nothing new).
Well, different readers react differently. Some find more words helpful, Some find fewer words helpful. The important point is to provide a range of documentation so that different readers can find what suits them. Some will avidly read all the policy and guideline documents. Others just want a bullet-pointed list as an aide memoire, while others again will want a long and detailed FAQ, and some gluttons for punishment will want to endlessly debate minutiae of details and examples (um, I guess that last section is us, right?). Carcharoth 00:19, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I am not talking about "more or less words." I am talking about repetition in the same short intro. I would be totally OK, if this sentence were basicaly the same, but in different words (I agree that different readers react to one and the same text differently, but I doubt that literal repetition within the scope of a pair of sentences is anything else but waste). What is more, the policy is a reference. All repetitions and explanations must go into FAQ, where it is quite normal that each answer may repeat one and the same, most probably slightly rephrased, to fit the question. `'mikka 00:42, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
When we had this discussion during writing this sentence, the consensus was that the repetition was useful because it emphasised the core point of the policy. JulesH 08:03, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Repetition makes sense when things are repeated beyond the attention span. I seriously doubt that repetition side by side serves any useful purpose. On the contrary, it looks dumb: "Wikipedia:Attribution and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view together mean that content on Wikipedia must be attributable and written from a neutral point of view." `'mikka 18:23, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 11

Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another.

Pseudologic. Nothing is "because" here. Compare: "because the policies are complementary (i.e., cover complementary, i.e., different aspects)", they may be considered independently." Sounds equally plausible.
"Because the policies are two sides of the same coin"? Probably too metaphoric. I wonder... Two sides of the same coin. No, it was too much to hope for. Carcharoth 00:23, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You're using an odd definition of "complementary" there. The Compact Oxford uses "combining so as to form a complete whole or to enhance each other". "Because the policies combine so as to form a complete whole, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another" makes perfect sense to me, and is totally logical IMO. JulesH 08:08, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Nothing is odd. "to complement" means to "add what is mising" ... "is often applied to putting together two things, each of which supplies what is lacking in the other, to make a complete whole: " (Random House Unabridged Dictionary). Further, what "complete whole" they represent? If you are thinking about this neat "two core content policies" phrase, there is also a bunch of non-core but just as important content policies, such as WP:NOT. The sentence sounds plausible, becase the conclusion part ("should not.. in isolation") is basically correct. There is a poorly known law of mathematical logic which basically says that the statement "if all sheep are black then the Earth rotates around the Sun" is true. But surely you would not use such a sentence to defend Copernicus. In our case a truly cause-and-effect phrase would be something like this: "Because the policies cover different aspects of the same topic, i.e., of the content of wikipedia, they should not ...etc.", the key point here being "of the same topic", rather than an accidental fact that there are only two of policies (under a certain agreement of counting), so that they happen to complement each other. `'mikka 16:19, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

S 12

For examples and explanations that illustrate key aspects of this policy, see Wikipedia:Attribution/FAQ.

To refer to FAQ without describing the "key aspects" first looks illogical. One may easily think that all written above ARE the "key aspects" (they do look like the "key" ones to me...) and jump right into FAQ. At the very least the phrasing should be, e.g., "The key aspects are summarized below. For detailed explanations and examples, see FAQ.
I agree. Carcharoth 00:24, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I concur with the rephrasing suggestion, although I disagree that the current version is illogical. JulesH 08:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Conclusion

I've done this tedious exercise to substantiate my expressed opinion that WP:ATTR was "poorly structured, repetitive and confusing text", which someone considered as a merely incivil remark to be ignored (and rightly so). If someone tells me that it would make some sense, I may continue this enumeration. `'mikka 23:44, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the above. I find this sort of nit-picking very helpful. I do it myself to some extent, but it is tiresome to quibble over what at the end of the day is style versus clarity. You can argue til you are blue in the face, but some people really won't see much difference with these tweaks, and some will prefer the 'wrong' version. :-) I agreed with most of what you said though. Carcharoth 00:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Your opinion is noted. Just be aware that the issue brought up by Jimbo was not about the content of WP:ATT, but about the change of structure of the separate policies. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:06, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Just be aware that I don't care where my opinion is noted by you or not. Since you are not discussing the essence of the proposal, allow me to consider your bashing me as trolling. Your habit of speaking about yourself in passive voice as if you represent some kind of an authoritative oversight committee is also noted. `'mikka 02:00, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
To those who may think that Jossi is entitled to interpret Jimbo's words (even though they are right here, even unarchived), let me directly quote: "and the result is completely incoherent.". In other words, Jossi's statement that "Jimbo was not" is false. `'mikka 02:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Also note that many of the issues you raise above, were and continue to be official policy with or without ATT. ATT did not change policy. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:08, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Also note that your persistent refusal to discuss any changes is duly noted and disagreed. `'mikka 02:00, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

This is my last response to very polite but very bossi Jossi. For the rest of editors, please let me repeat, I am not questioning the policies. I am questioning the sloppiness in their description, be it old or new. `'mikka 02:00, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

You could have made your argument without making value judgments such as "bossy", and that would have been better received. As I said before, if you want me (or others) to take you seriously and respond to your comments, then avoid making such value judgments of your fellow editors. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:25, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Is it still an official policy or not?

The question is related to my recent revert of some deletion.

In view of Jimbo's intervention, shall we change the topmost tag of the policy? `'mikka 00:55, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

The policy status remain, read what Jimbo said above. "What the pages say now is that WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those." ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:01, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
The problem is that WP:V and WP:NOR state that there are three content policies, and WP:A states that there are two. Do you support retaining this ambiguity for weeks while we decide what to do? I sure as heck don't. We have an encyclopedia going on here that needs clarity in its core policies every minute of every day.
WP:A can stand as a cogent article without the text I removed, while the issues are being worked on. -/- Warren 01:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I do not see a problem with the removal of that portion. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:10, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I do see a problem with the removal of that portion. Warren is worried of "two" vs. "three". This is exactly what I mentioned in my list of comments. Why don't you delete the number (and rephrase accordingly), without deleting a very important reference to WP:NPOV? `'mikka 02:04, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
To my knowledge, there is no real dispute about the core of what actual policy says. WP:ATT is intended to merely include everything that was in WP:V and WP:NOR, and the proponents of the merge did not suggest that it was part of a policy change. This is really about what is the best way to both (a) present the policy in a coherent fashion and (b) keep the policy concise and self-consistent. In the meantime, any rules lawyers who try to sneak in bad behavior based on this rather arcane technical change should simply be bonked gently on the head with a chocolate cheesecake.--Jimbo Wales 05:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I hope that you will apply this cheezebanging equally both to me and to those who tried hard to shut down the discussion without even looking into the essence of criticism. `'mikka 16:22, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I particularly liked the chocolate part -- above all the theobromine in it that went straight to my head and made me feel good.  :)) --Rednblu 18:38, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Commented out a paragraph

I commented out this paragraph from the lead section:

Wikipedia:Attribution is one of Wikipedia's two core content policies. The other is Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles; that is, content on Wikipedia must be attributable and written from a neutral point of view. Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another. For examples and explanations that illustrate key aspects of this policy, see Wikipedia:Attribution/FAQ.

I imagine it's going to take a while to sort out the issues around WP:A and its place in Wikipedia... removing this paragraph should help with keeping the page cogent without confusing newer editors as to what the real policies are. -/- Warren 00:59, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

This is what Jimbo wrote about the status of ATT: "What the pages say now is that WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those. My big beef with this merger is that we often need to send people to a page like WP:NOR which explains in a rich and persuasive way what the policy is about and why it is a good idea. This involves sometimes saying things which overlap with parts of WP:V. (They are not the same idea!) The combined page provides a handy way to keep policy consistent and have a tight presentation of what policy actually is. The separate pages can be more detailed and understandable."
I'm happy with that. One of the problems was the tag that was added to V and NOR saying they had been "superseded," and Jimbo felt this implied deprecation. He would like the pages to remain as explanatory texts of the separable concepts (and they are indeed separable), so that people who want a fuller explanation of them can go to those pages. This is the kind of creative compromise that's very welcome, in my view. There's no question of those concepts or pages being downgraded in any way. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:25, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You don't have to remove the whole paragraph (which I think is quite important, despite my critique) to preserve consistency, see my comment above. `'mikka 02:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I didn't delete it; I commented it out and brought it here so that we could have some attention paid to the wording while the bigger issues get sorted out. I'm not particularily interested in shaping policy or whatever, I'm just a rank-and-file editor that really needs these policies to be clear and concise. The text as it was would be quite fine if there weren't these questions still floating about the relations of the policies to eachother, or if there wasn't an obvious mismatch like I'd pointed out above. The new wording is better, so thanks for that. -/- Warren 02:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
There are three fundamental, distinct, but interconnected doctrines: verifiability, NOR, and NPOV. Of course, "doctrine" has bad connotations, so we tend to call them "policies". Whether they need to be explained in three separate policy pages, or two, or just one (called "core policies" or something) or whether we indeed need more than three for some reason, is a secondary matter. There are three policies, however many documents are needed to describe them well. Personally, I think that one policy per document is least confusing and best reflects historical continuity, but a single document that summarises them all and explains how they connect, and points to the others for more detail, would certainly not hurt. Metamagician3000 08:05, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I should add that there is no doctrine (or fundamental content policy) of "attribution". We often have to attribute for the purpose of providing verification or to help avoid original research, but attribution itself is not a fundamental content policy. The word may or may not provide a good name for a document that discusses fundamental content policies, but that's a different issue. Metamagician3000 08:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
This was exactly what I was saying in section #It was done upside down (a core policy is "verifiablity", not "attribution"), but certain policymakers tried hard to gag me just because they spent 5 months. `'mikka 16:28, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Freezing WP:V and WP:NOR

I would like to see WP:V and WP:NOR frozen. There is a maintenance problem with everybody-can-edit numerous interrelated policies. This ATT policy is simply the V and NOR policies in a more maintainable form, with slightly better nomenclature. Let's freeze V and NOR and but let ATT continue to be open to our traditional freedom to improve. WAS 4.250 02:19, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I would support that. But we need to demote WP:RS as it has no longer the support needed to be a guideline in its current form. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:28, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
At the very least, yes, please that. The removal of RS as a stand-alone page was one of the best things about this merge, it's very unfortunate to see it back again. We went from three pages to one page and now we're up to four pages, this is a "one step forward and two steps back" situation. Bryan Derksen 04:53, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
A classic example of problems with forks. I support this suggestion as well. As for WP:RS, don't we have in wikipedia a habit that large pages are split into subpages? As I see now, WP:RS is almost verbatim incorporated into WP:ATTR. Why don't we spawn it back into a separate page with the preamble: this page is part of the WP:ATTR policy or something? IMO this page is quite autonomous. For example, article deletion in wikipedia is handled by more than a dozen of pages. `'mikka 02:58, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:RS needs to be demoted and redirected here as it was before. There is no need to have a separate page, as per the compromise relating to WP:NOR and WP:V. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I would argue that WP:ATT is more maintainable, but at the price of being a significantly worse nomenclature. While policies like WP:V and WP:NOR are interrelated (as all of reality is interrelated), they are significantly different ideas and radical reductionists who see them as really being the same thing are, in my view, badly mistaken. When I say that something is original research, and when I say that something is unverifiable, I mean different things by those statements, as I am focusing on a different kind of deviation from good editing. WP:V and WP:NOR serve a valuable function in focusing on different sorts of things which come up. Reducing all policy to one thing is just not going to be helpful, since not everything is the same thing.--Jimbo Wales 05:41, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
To a point, I see your point (after all, we could in theory condense every policy/guideline/etc. into a single "Editing rules" page, but that would be unwieldy.) What happens, though, if the two get out of sync? Seraphimblade Talk to me 05:44, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
If I may repeat myself from earlier (my question appears to have been missed), how are the two fundamentally different? The violation in both cases is that they are adding information that isn't supported elsewhere, the only difference being that in the second case, NOR, it's because they are the source, while in the first, V, it could be "my friend told me" or "I read it some place". --tjstrf talk 05:48, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
See the longest thread on Talk:Albinism for one example. Some people very literally believe that they are sources. WP:NOR is the only answer to them. A more vague policy page about source citations is lost on such people. They must be directed to a policy that says "You are not a source, per se, and you just have to get over it" or they simply shrug and continue adding their allegedly expert OR. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:34, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
The reason, of course, that we redirected WP:V and WP:NOR to sections of this policy was so that the old nomenclature could be retained. In the end, I agree with Slim that having them as separate pages isn't a problem, as long as those pages are clear that they are subsidiary to this policy. If that isn't the case, then we end up with exactly the same problem this was designed to fix: different pages saying different things about the same subject, and a mess that's almost impossible to change without introducing inconsistencies.
(Of course, if I'd been making the proposal to begin with, I'd have gone the other way: promote a rewritten WP:RS to policy and move everything out of WP:V and WP:NOR that refers to acceptability of sources out into it, then rationalise the remaining text so that the policies agreed with each other in all other details, perhaps factoring out other common ideas like reliable sources were... but that's just my software engineering background showing through). JulesH 08:20, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
* I begin with the idea that Wikipedia policy should help resolve and avoid conflicts among editors on what should appear on Wikipedia pages. But the current Attribution page does not help resolve the problems--because "attribution" is simply not the problem. As Mikka says above, the real controversies among opinionated editors are over "verifiability." For example, the scientists quite correctly keep cutting out from the Evolution page the perfectly-well attributed NPOV summaries of what reliable sources have said about evolution--if those assertions have no "verifiability." Burying and hiding the real problem of "verifiability" inside an "attribution" page gets us nowhere. Instead of running from the problems of "verifiability," we should be focusing our attention on clarifying the murky and self-contradictory text of the Verifiability policy page. Attribution is merely one contributing factor to "verifiability." Weighting the sections of a Wikipedia page to favor realistically the views of the more reliable sources is a wholly independent problem from "attribution" and should be dealt with separately. Similarly, not allowing original research done by assembling perfectly-good attributions that support the editor's pet theory is a very different problem among editors and requires explanations quite different from "attribution." And the merger of any of these policies into the Attribution page is simply a bad idea gone wrong--because the merger makes it more difficult to describe reasonable standards by which we Wikipedia editors can resolve and avoid the conflicts among us. "Attribution" is not the problem; "verifiability" is. --Rednblu 08:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Question about when to attribute, and proposed change...

For me, it has always seemed that attribution of sources (henceforth: "referencing") serves 2 purposes:

  1. To back up that the claim is verifiably true, as reported in reliable sources.
  2. To direct people to the source of the information, for the sake of further research.

Specifically, the phrase in the policy that is giving me trouble is "Editors should provide attribution for quotations and for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged..." This seems to me to be a bare minimum standard, and not the goal for an article that is fully referenced. Later in the policy, it states "Material added to articles must be directly and explicitly supported by the cited sources." This seems in conflict with the bare minimum. To me, it seems that the "challenged or likely to be challenged" statement is being used as a crutch to avoid having to improve articles to the highest standards. Look at it another way: Wikipedia (like all encyclopedias) should only be a starting point for research, or as a casual source of information. If I make a statement like "The Foo Tower is 1475 meters tall", it is not likely to be challenged, and so one might think they don't need to reference it. However, lets say I was doing research on Foo Tower. Using wikipedia as a starting point, I would want to go to the original source of that information, for a variety of reasons. Lacking a reference, however, I cannot do that. From another point: referencing of this point should be easy. If you are reading a book/journal/website/whatever that says "Foo Tower is 1475 meters tall" why NOT reference the source? True, the statement is unlikely to be controversial, and thus does not warrent removal from the article, but in the case where articles are being improved to the highest standards (such as GA, FA, A-Class, etc. etc.) there is no compelling reason to NOT add the reference beyond "I don't feel like it". To sum up:

  • The wording of the policy needs to be changed to reflect that while controversial statements need to be cited or removed, even non-controversial assertions of fact should be ideally referenced.
  • Referencing serves more purpose than merely used to back up controversial statements. Chief among these is since wikipedia is a Tertiary Source, it should direct people to the Secondary Sources it uses so as to be more useful as a research vehicle.
  • Excellence should be the end goal of all Wikipedia articles, not just competence. Official policy should reflect that Wikipedia as a venture strives for that excellence in all of its articles. To recognize minimum standards is one thing, but one must also note that all articles should have as their goal the ideal standard. Referencing controversial statements is the bare minimum. Referencing all assertions of fact should be the ideal standard.
  • The best practice is to write from sources rather than memory. If I am looking at a source that has information I wish to add to wikipedia, there is no compelling reason for me to intentionally avoid citing that source. If the information being added isn't coming from another source, it probably shouldn't be added.
  • I understand that statements are added to articles with the expectation that they will be referenced later(I myself do this often), especially where an assertion of fact is so well referenced that it is commonly accepted. We should not confuse a practice done as an expedient when building an article with the final goal of the article. Our goal should always be full referencing, and to avoid mentioning that in the policy encourages mediocrity.

Comments anyone? I would like to see what others think, and ultimately, if there is consensus, to ammend the policy in a way that encourages excellence rather than mere competence. --Jayron32|talk|contribs 05:24, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I think we can get too fixated on reading doctrines such as verifiability in a literal way. There are limits to how much we can or should reference every single uncontroversial factual claim. If I write, "The Earth revolves around the Sun", or even "The Earth is the third planet from the Sun", in some context where it is necessary to make that statement, there is no need to cite an astronomy text for it, or to attribute it to someone as if it were a controversial viewpoint. The key is to explain our fundamental doctrines - verifiability, no original research, and neutral point of view - in such a way that people will understand their intention and spirit, why we need them, and how they fit together - and will be likely to apply them according to their original intention and spirit. That means neither applying them in such a literal way that it becomes impossible to do simple things ("According to Copernicus, Galileo and others, the Earth revolves around the Sun") nor finding ways of reading their wording narrowly in order to evade their intent. No policy wording will be perfect at achieving these outcomes, but that's life. Good sense must always be applied. Metamagician3000 07:54, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the article. If you are writing an article on a modern astronomical theory unrelated to Copernicus's theory, and you mention, in passing, that the Earth orbits the Sun (revolves has another meaning in astronomy, by the way), then just linking out to the Copernicus article and other relevant articles is enough. But in the geocentric theory and heliocentric theory articles, stuff about the history of the science - who published what and when, should be assidously sourced. Again, it is common sense really. Third planet from the Sun will be uncontroversial in most articles, but for some articles it will be a central point, such as the historical articles where the Sun is considered a 'planet' and the Earth was considered the centre of the universe. Apples and oranges, really. Carcharoth 10:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I have no problem with the gist of that, of course. Metamagician3000 13:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
For a further point, take a simple, non-controversial statement like: "The atomic weight of Carbon is 12.011 g/mol." Does this need attribution? At first glance, it is likely to be uncontroversial, so no. However, we have another problem: there are multiple references that give atomic weights, and depending on the method used to calulate them, they do not neccessarily agree. Thus, it is important to say according to whom... Nearly every number, date, or other data reported in an article beyond the rediculously plain (such as the Earth's location in the solar system) is the work of someone who calculated or deduced it, and thus should be attributed. Attributing to the original source of the data isn't required (or even desirable) but it should be attributed to a reliable secondary source. Also, statements that are plainly obvious in one field of knowledge are not neccessarily so to the non-expert. We should consider referencing as more than just a means of avoiding controversy, again, it should be more about aiding research and directing readers to more indepth sources of information. Of a bigger problem is that asking if something needs to be referenced is really asking two questions:
  • If this statement is not referenced, should it be removed?
  • If this statement is not referenced, does it prevent the article from being considered high quality (Featured, A-Class, or whatever)?
Why does this policy only acknowledge one of these two, quite valid, questions? Anyone? --Jayron32|talk|contribs 20:33, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I do not concur with this argument, and regard it as destructive to the encyclopedia. It encourages mindless footnote counting, which has made FA and GA worthless processes, which now actively prefer articles written to support a PoV with lots of pretty pictures and footnotes to dishonestly cited sources. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:30, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Attribution sounds way different from Verifiability

Although the texts of the pages is pretty similar, the titles give them different meanings. Take a small town like Selma, Oregon, for instance. I'm sure there exists reliable sources to prove its existence, but right now it's only reference is google maps. I don't know if that is a RS, but it didn't even have that a few months ago. If someone put it up for AfD, it seems like Keep per Wikipedia:Verifiability, and Delete per Wikipedia:Attribution, would both kind of roll off the tongue easily. The first seems to ask "can we find reliable sources," the second seems to ask "have we found reliable sources." Maybe small towns are AfD proof, so it isn't the best example, but you can see what I mean. - Peregrine Fisher 07:14, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, really, AfD debates shouldn't be deleting due to lack of sources. It should be - do we need this article in the encyclopedia? Not, has someone made this up? If it obviously exists, then the article merely waits for someone to come along with more references and sources. Deletion in that case would be destructive and unecessary, requiring recreation later. Carcharoth 10:52, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, really, this is not what actually happens during AfD debates. "If it obviously exists," then one must have no trouble to find a valid reference. If you don't provide it in 5 days, goodbye article. And I strongly suspect you cannot change this. The policy for quite some time clearly says in one way or another: "the burden of evidence is on the author". `'mikka 18:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

"Selma, Oregon": unfortunately or not, AfD has become an instrument of pressurizing authors to provide the necessary references. Quite a few articles have been created by contributors that came and go, and more civilized approaches of leaving messages on author's or article's talk pages simply don't work. Yes, Selma, Oregon itself is verifiable. Its zip code is verifiable with little effort. But what about "population of 1,934"? OK. Nevermind United States. After all, it has enough eyeballs. But what about, say, Raaso village of Ethiopia, whose history shows that no one really watches this page and it was edited mostly by anons? `'mikka 18:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Population 1,934 is doubtless from the 2000 census, as the date would indicate. Checking this would be a service to Wikipedia, but not one I feel inspired to make at the moment. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:35, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

3 - 2 = 4

Given the merge was pretty much canceled for now, this page should not be considered policy because that gives us one additional (and divergent) page to deal with. I believe we should consider it historical for now, and perhaps point the redirects to one of the actual policies. >Radiant< 08:14, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I tend to agree, though of course it still embodies a lot of thought that went into drafting it, so it's still a resource. Metamagician3000 08:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm, I don't think WP:ATT as policy was canceled, only the redirects of WP:V and WP:NOR into this. And both of those explain that this one is canonical. It seems unnecessary to make this change, as the status quo doesn't seem to be problematic in any obvious way. What's wrong with just sitting tight and letting the consensus process run?--Jimbo Wales 08:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
The problem lies in policies that overlap and possibly become divergent. It confuses people, especially those people who need to read our policies. It may give people the impression that attributability is something very different from verifiability, when in fact it is not. If all are open to editing, eventually part of WP:ATT will contradict WP:V, leading to further confusion. Note that WP:ATT is not and never was a new policy; it was an attempted merge of existing policies. Unoding the merge obviates the need for this page. >Radiant< 09:04, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
As my lukewarms response shows, I don't feel strongly and can live with either, but there already seems to be a thought around that "no original research" and "verifiability" are somehow the same thing, or parts of some underlying, more fundamental thing (which I think is seriously misleading). Having the page in its current form and considered canonical tends to encourage that, IMHO. But I'm a late player to have stumbled across this, by way of a different debate, so I'll defer to others. Metamagician3000 09:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Arriving (back) at this late and trying to follow your posts, could I just ask for a clarification, Jimbo: you agree that this page is canonical now? Your first posts seem to say not, but now you suggest yes. When the merge idea was at the decision phase there was a lot of discussion about how to broadcast it; it seemed to me inevitable that with a 1000+ admins and tens of thousands editors in general, large numbers were not going to hear about it. But at the same time it was broadcast as best as people were able. Put another way, someone was always bound to be surprised, but what could we do given the size of this place?
Although thinking about it, I don't know if there was a post on your talk; perhaps everyone thought someone else had done it and thus didn't bother... When the editing interface changed from "Encyclopedic content must be verifiable" to "Encyclopedic content must be attributable to a reliable source" I just assumed Jimbo was aware and approved. Marskell 09:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
My five cents is that the present state of affairs is manageable. We need to keep an eye out that the three policies now do not rot into divergence, but I think we have enough alert and interested people to keep them together (in fact, watching for divergence will help us to keep all three pages smart).
I don't know if Jimbo will read my comment, but I'd just like to say that although it must feel as if Wikipedia has been around for ages, it is actually in its infancy. Some very clever people have been trying to make sure that the policy information is presented more cleanly and briefly and that ingrained difficulties (like that contained in the word "verifiable" and the duplications and obfuscations in the "Reliable Sources" page) are ironed out in this early stage of Wikipedia's evolution. Many organisations would pay a fortune (to Slim Virgin and a few other visionary thinkers behind this page who have a rare capacity to think conceptually and in detail across all the policies) to have their policies streamlined in the way that has been done here for free. Consensus will catch up in the end, I am sure. In my opinion a radical improvement—not in policy but in its expression and comprehensibility—has been achieved on behalf of Wikipedia by the Attribution page. qp10qp 12:33, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

OK, things are now in a total mess...

Thanks to the confusion over whether this supersedes Wikipedia:Verification or not, the shortcuts are now messed up. WP:V redirects to Wikipedia:Verification, as before, but Wp:v and other alternative capitalisations redirect here to WP:ATT. Similar problems exist with WP:RS and WP:NOR. Please can someone clarify whether this is current policy, and whether WP:V and WP:NOR are current or defunct policies? This kind of confusion is going to really mess up the AfD process, particularly as WP:N is now under dispute as well. What happened to clear, simple and unambiguous policy statements, like we used to have back in the halcyon days of February? Walton Vivat Regina! 09:22, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

  • All shortcuts that used to refer to NOR, V and RS should be reverted to once more point there. >Radiant< 09:31, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Which would be appropriate regardless of whether this supersedes the other two. In such case, the two old pages should be kept with {{historical}} and the meaning of the hundreds of thousands of comments that refer to them should not be changed by retargetting redirects. —Centrxtalk • 03:57, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

BLP

There is some discussion of renaming/moving Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons (discussion here). I know this is OT but I thought I'd mention it here to make people aware, since a lot of people interested in policy are checking it out. And to make it on topic, I agree with the point above that the part where it says "Together with Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, the two determine the type and quality of material" but for a different reason. By referring to only the two, it ignores the fact that BLP also determines the type of information. To be fair, we do mention BLP in this policy so provided we emphasise enough that BLP is a consideration, I guess it's okay. I've tried to improve this by mentioning privacy. Privacy is an important, additional consideration which doesn't really have much to do with sourcing (obviously we need good sources) or negative material (someone's birthday or kids names is not usually negative material). Nil Einne 13:03, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Whatever the heck this mess turns out to be, please keep this stuff...

Whatever this huge mess turns out to be, I have a humble request: In the Bright New Future, Please keep this verbiage:

Although everything in Wikipedia must be attributable, in practice not all material is attributed. Editors should provide attribution for quotations and for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, or it may be removed. The burden of evidence lies with the editor wishing to add or retain the material. If an article topic has no reliable sources, Wikipedia should not have an article on it.

(My emphasis) As well as the FAQ entry that says that the preferred way to deal with the lack of sourcing is to try to provide sources, tag the problematic parts, and only delete as the last resort.

The way I saw it, the old WP:V policy was used as a cop-out: "I want this thing deleted. Oh, looks like this is like 90% of all Wikipedia articles, devoid of sources. That ought to do it. What? I don't need to look for sources anyway, that's the author's job! I'm just the guy who deletes stuff!" It's frustrating when people bring articles to AfD just because they don't have sources! I've seen articles survive AfDs because the sources were handed to the people on silver platter, then a bit later the nominator says "funny that the sources haven't been added to the article"! Oh, please have a nice cup of {{sofixit}}, the people did already provide the sources!

The Attribution policy at least tries to encourage people to be a little bit more proactive and try to fix the situation first. And that's the giant big good thing. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 14:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Agreed, to a point. The nominator should try to find sources, but that's out of courtesy so that people don't have to waste their time arguing against deletion when there were plenty of sources readily available. It's still the authors' responsibility to find sources, not the nominator's responsibility to prove that they can't. Because it's nearly impossible to prove that there are no sources for something, which doesn't mean we should keep everything on the grounds that there might be sources. -Amarkov moo! 14:16, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I think the point of this is that an author should do his research and have his sources lined up before he adds something to the article. Blueboar 14:36, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but the Verifiability says that everything, I mean everything, has to be sourced, and you're evil if you let that stand in the article. You can delete almost everything from most article lead sections: "Humans have a highly developed brain capable of abstract reasoning, language, and introspection." Says who? Lies... "This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees their upper limbs for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species." Really? Really? Should I slap {{fact}}s here, or delete them right away as the old WP:V demands? A question of etiquette... --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 14:45, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Yep. Which is why I like the model presented in FAQ: If it can be easily demonstrated that at least someone has tried to resolve sourcing problems, then there's really nothing to be said. I'm not having problem with stuff that can't be sourced; I'm more of having problem with people who say "well, I spent whole two minutes on this AfD nomination, I got 1,500,000 Google hits, but they're all probably worthless anyway. Let's delete this." ...and after 5 days it turns out to be very significant. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 14:45, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
On the other hand... at some point we have to draw the line ... I frequently surf around and find articles with no sources. If I know nothing about the topic, I can not add anything substantive to the article, and I usually don't know where to begin looking for reliable sources. My usual practice is to tag the article with an {{unreferenced}} tag and come back in a month or so... only to find that the article still has no references. At that point I nominate it for deletion. This usually results in a flurry of "Keep" votes from people who like the topic and think it is worthy of keeping, and my practice is to say "OK, I will withdraw the Nomination to allow people time to find sources". I then sit back and wait another month or so... at which point I nominate it again because no one bothered to actually add any sources to the article once I withdrew the nom to give them time to do so. I then Repeat this process a few times until the article is either fixed (a very rare occurance) or deleted (this usually takes a few repetitions). We say... "source, source, source" but do we really mean it? Blueboar 17:55, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
But do you really think that adding {{unreferenced}} to an article will help? We have tens of thousands of articles with that tag, and one more won't get it any kind of additional attention whatsoever. And AfD is a place for deleting articles, not to ask for sources. Maybe we need a new page, Wikipedia:Request for sources. One could nominate an article there, and instead of the endless "Delete, no sources!" - "No, keep! There are sources out there!" discussion, the goal of a nomination would be to actually find sources for a certain article, instead of discussing whether there are possibly sourced out there. If no sources can be found, AfD might be an option. --Conti| 18:43, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
"Wikipedia:Request for sources": I also was thinking about suggesting to complement each policy with a request page, but on the other hand, there already are categories which list artciles tagged as problematic. The solution would be to create the corresponding WikiProject with a dedicated task force which would not only bug authors of ill-fortuned articles, but proactively search for references and pinpoint the problematic places by replacing the global "unref" tag with strategically placed {{fact}}'s. This is what I usually do when I see an underreferenced article on AfD: If I am interested in the topic enough to vote to keep, I am also attempting to salvage it. `'mikka 18:59, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Wikipedia:Reliable sources

I have suggested on Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources that Wikipedia:Reliable sources be merged and redirected to Wikipedia:Attribution#Reliable_sources. Please see the discussion (if any) at Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources. Signed Jeepday 14:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

RS was redirected here... and it just un-redirected about an hour ago. If you read this talk page a bit, you will see that there is currently some question as to whether ATT is going to remain as policy or not. Until that is determined, it would be premature to re-merge and re-redirect RS. Obviously, should ATT survive, there is no need for RS. But if ATT is shot down, then the RS issue becomes the next hot topic. Blueboar 16:22, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Backlinks

When looking into the above section, I decided to double-check, whether there are any other misdirected redirects. After clicking "what links here" I was surprized to find that the policy is linked from thousands of articles, ranging from "Chirp" to "Clothes hanger" to Yello, and naturally failed to do what I intended to.

Does it make sense to suggest an impovement that will prevent certain templates from pushing their content into "what links here"? Something similar to the "noinclude" functionality, which allows us to put templates into categories without putting the tagged articles into these categories. If someone agrees that this would be a good idea and knows how to expedite this request, please do so. `'mikka 19:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I do not see any mention of ATT in these examples. Maybe there are backlinks from talk pages. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:00, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Hehe, a yet another surprize of wikilink piping. Answer: see {{unreferenced}}.
By the way, in view of Jimbo's reversals and the discussion here, may I humbly suggest to revert this change, back to WP:RS? I wanted to do this myself, but noticed that the edit was SlimVirgin, who will not hesitate to revert a nasty troll me on the spot. So I am humbly bringing this to common attention. `'mikka 20:25, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Indeed.[4] I am increasingly finding it difficult to WP:AGF and starting to worry about WP:OWN --Henrygb 20:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo has made it clear he has no problem with this page. His concern was triggered when he saw the word "superseded" on the NOR and V pages, because he feels that as separate concepts, they need their own pages, at least in some form. I have no problem with that at all. They're important concepts, both of them. They keep Wikipedia safe.
Mikka, NPA please. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
mikka. you are crossing a line you shouldn't. Can you please stay on topic and avoid making comments on other editors? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:13, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
How about avoiding reverting other editors on sight? `'mikka 22:21, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
How about not changing policy? WP:ATT needs to stay true to WP:NOR. The last change, which I reverted, was a departure from a long standing formulation of NOR. Not a happening thing, sorry. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:23, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
My standard formule in that situation is to ask politely on the TalkPage for someone with edit permissions on the page to make the grammar correction. Was the word "nasty" really necessary?  :)) --Rednblu 22:37, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
"Nasty" was applied to me. While I am carring out a reasonable dialog about merits of my criticism with a number of editors in this page, yet another, smaller group started from outright dismissing my opinion on the grounds that "it was discussed for N months by well-meaning editors in good standing" without minimal comment on merits of my suggestions. I read it as a polite way of saying "Bug off, you understand nothing here. Who are you anyway?". There is quite a few literary and movie plots that incorporate an episode where a true gentleman demonstrates an uncanny ability to dip a plain guy into a pail of excrements while wearing white gloves, and I see no reason to hide racial hatred to such an attitude. `'mikka 22:51, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You need to cool-off, Mikka. Really. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:33, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
That's the whole point of my previous message. I am still a nasty troll to you. And you need to recognize that starting a dialog with a person you see for the first time in your life by refusing to have a dialog is not how consensus is sought. I do have disagreements with several other wikipedians in this talk page. But they actually communicate with me as with an equal and in the essense of the issues. And the proper way of cooling off hotheaded opponents is to respond to my previous text with "I am sorry you read it in this way. This was not my intention." `'mikka 23:52, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
If you really believe your last point, Mikka, you could lead by example. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:55, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You are not a troll to me, Mikkalai, but I wonder why do you think that. I only expect respect from editors I engage with, and reserve the right not to respond to comments when civility is abandoned for the sake of argumentation. Read your own comments in this page, and if you can honestly say that these were not over aggressive, bordering on personal attacks, then yes, "I am sorry you read it in this way. This was not my intention" could be a way forward. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:58, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Maybe you need to cool-off on this page. Or alternatively, you might come over to my TalkPage, and let's talk. Nobody has to cool-off over there. You might notice that everyone is actually "hearing" what you have to say, and I am learning a lot I must say. --Rednblu 01:59, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Don't change the policy, please

Someone just tried to make an edit that would have changed the NOR concept. This was never the page to do this on, and now in particular is the wrong time to try it. One of Jimbo's concerns yesterday is that the shift to ATT might have had the effect, inadvertently or otherwise, of weakening V or NOR. That was always a concern of mine too, and of most of the other regular editors to this page, and we did our best to make sure it didn't happen. Jimbo wants to make absolutely certain that the move is nailed down and closely studied, so that no inadvertent changes slipped by people's attention.

The NOR and V concepts are absolutely fundamental to Wikipedia. If you disagree with them, by all means discuss it, but you can't change those parts of the policy without clear and unambiguous consensus, which doesn't include a failure to respond on the talk page. And it especially can't be done now, because of the upcoming poll. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:48, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

"This was never the page to do this": The way you put it here is exactly opposite to what is said at WP:NOR :The canonical description of this policy is at the unified Wikipedia:Attribution page. This page is policy, but should track Wikipedia:Attribution in terms of details. I tried to start finding a way out this mess by suggesting to start a discussion of the relative weight of NOR/V/ATTR/CITE/RS, in #It was done upside down, i.e., which is core and which is derivative, but this effort went down the drain with bickering about "5 months of hard work". I will try to repeat my attempt tomorrow, after a more solid preparation of arguments. `'mikka 23:02, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I find it pretty ironic that one of the biggest complainers about the "5 months of hard work" comments is the one using the phrase the most. If you really want to stop hearing it mentioned, I'd recommend following your own advice. --Minderbinder 23:06, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, it worked. And since the phrase begins bugging others, I hope I will not hear this kind of argument any time soon. `'mikka 23:36, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Mikka, what I meant was that the purpose of this page was simply to merge the two policies. There was discussion early on about adding a pop culture exception, which would have been a change, but it was never fleshed out to everyone's satisfaction so it got dropped, and we went back to a very firm "no change" policy, in order to gain consensus.
The core/derivative thing is easily answered. The NOR and V concepts are core and always were. Those concepts are now explained on this policy page, ATT. Jimbo has no problem with that. What he wants, however, is for the concepts to remain distinct in people's minds, and he wants there to be a page devoted to each of them that explains and expands, so that if any editor is confused, there's somewhere for them to go and read more. In other words, Jimbo doesn't want there to be any sense in which the concepts of V and NOR become deprecated, or look as though they might have been. I'm totally in agreement with him on that point. Where I disagree with him is over the poll issue, because I think it's going to get us nowhere, but that's a separate issue to do with process. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:11, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Good. We have an agreement on that. Now, could you please point me to the page where the goal of this merge was stated? The first archive of this talk page dives headlong into changing of WP:NOR and other exciting things without any discussion of the goal of the whole endeavor. `'mikka 23:23, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Read the top of this very page. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:39, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
There's so much of it in so many different places. We described many times how the goal was to merge, not make fundamental changes. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:43, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry to troll again, but my question was "What was the goal of the merge?", rather than "What was the goal of this page?" Anyway, I've found one indication: here: "A more sensibly written and simpler replacement for WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:RS.". And I see that the resulting text is indeed simpler. (On the other hand, it does miss several items of the original policies, but let us skip this issue for now). But as I see there is no replacement. The next question is: in what way keeping both original policies and the new, simplified yet still a very detailed text (plus a FAQ too), contributes to the overall simplification of the total wikipedia's "Code of Law" or makes the life of an editor easier or what else? `'mikka 00:52, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Way back when this new policy nomenclature and its associated policy page was first proposed, a concern was expressed on Jimbo's talk page about "changing policy" with regard to language in it dealing with what is here being called "a pop culture exception" and in the debates about the exact language to be used was phrased any number of different ways, none of which achieved consensus. The point of the new nomenclaure "attribution" is that it better expresses the actual behavior being asked of contrbutors and avoids confusion some people had over their personal ability to "verify" a thing as true evrsus what we needed them to do which was to provide an attribution to a reliable published source. The point of the "pop culture exception" is that it merely codified existing practice (and was being justified and still is justified under IAR) and thus was not new policy nut merely recognized eisting policy as practiced. You know descriptive instead of prescriptive. So even with the "pop culture exception", ATT was never about new policy, merely new a new and better description of existing policy as it was (and is) currently practised. Anyway, I said this way back then on Jimbo's talk page and it is not our fault if people don't pay attention or if paying attention forget. I believe nothing was done wrong in the process creating ATT and it is a mistake to add bureaucacy to fix what doesn't need fixing. WAS 4.250 00:21, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes I noticed the discussion of relative merits of words "att" vs. "ver". I agree with the arguments, but disagree with solution. As I wrote elsewhere, tomorrow I will try to outline my suggestion. It will not require any major overhaul or merge, only setting the priorities and goals straight and open (after my chats here I came to believe that the suggestion will not contradict to the persuasions of the most). `'mikka 00:52, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

"Someone just tried to make an edit that would have changed the NOR concept."

The change I made did not change in substance the concept of NOR. It changed the definition of it in use on this page, but as this page currently disagrees in important ways with the definition at WP:NOR, and the definition I substituted is more similar to the one at WP:NOR I felt the changes were particularly critical in light of the fact that both pages are now policy. We cannot have these two policies disagreeing with each other over such a fundamental point as what original research is.

"This was never the page to do this on,"

Then what page should it be done on? The error is one of the phrasing on this page having diverged from the meaning set out in WP:NOR, which this page explicitly is not supposed to have altered.

"and now in particular is the wrong time to try it"

I disagree. Now, being a time when (a) both policies have effect, and (b) many eyes are on this policy examining it for flaws that may influence them to reject it is exactly the time when it is required.

"One of Jimbo's concerns yesterday is that the shift to ATT might have had the effect, inadvertently or otherwise, of weakening V or NOR."

I don't see him expressing this concern on this page. Could you point me to where he said that?

"That was always a concern of mine too, and of most of the other regular editors to this page, and we did our best to make sure it didn't happen."

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm one of those regular editors, and have mostly shared this concern. But the problem is that the current version effectively defines all content on Wikipedia as original research. It says "Material counts as original research if it introduces a theory, method of solution, or any other original idea." There is no restriction of that clause to theories, methods of solution or original ideas that have not been published in a reliable source.

"Jimbo wants to make absolutely certain that the move is nailed down and closely studied, so that no inadvertent changes slipped by people's attention."

Well, one did, and the edit I made was intended to fix it. Please unprotect the policy so that this change (which nobody has raised any objection to) can be reinserted. JulesH 08:17, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

"Further reading" sections

Are there any guidelines or even essays on "Further reading" sections? Can anyone suggest a better venue to discuss such sections, or is the best place to do so? --Ronz 00:04, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

See our guidelines on the poorly named "external links" section. "Further reading" is merely a better name for the "external links" section". At least it was. Lately I've seen some people try to draw a distiction, which I believe to be a mistake. Conceptually we have internal links in a see also section that in a perfect article would either be incorporated into the text itself or be part of a navigation box; sources (both with and without links); and further reading (both with and without links). WAS 4.250 00:28, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Originally "External links" was to hold all external links in one place for easy maintenance, rather than to spread them all over the article. With the acceptance of inline quotations this goal became kinda unattainable, but still all ext links would visually land downwards (at least per guidelines) and one may keep an eye on spam, outdated, unreliable, etc. relatively easily, compared to early texts, full of [5] this [6] unmanageable [7][8] kind [9] of weblinking. `'mikka 01:11, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I have occasionally seen editors use "further reading" as a second "references" section for references to print sources that were not actually cited in the article. This is in addition to an "external links" section and is condoned by the Wikipedia:Guide to layout. CMummert · talk 00:39, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Why "condoned"? I see it described and approved. the Guide gives some slack as to the usage of these tail section, insisting only that all refs used as source be found in the "Ref" or "Notes" sections. `'mikka 01:11, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
You're absolutely right; I was just being understated. CMummert · talk 01:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Wikipedia:Guide_to_layout#Further_reading is what I was looking for. Sadly, it doesn't say much. These sections can easily grow the same way a linkfarm does, though as a long list of related books and publications. I suppose WP:NOT#REPOSITORY should apply though. --Ronz 01:15, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, there are significant efforts to keep linkfarmins/spamming at bay; in addition to WP:NOT#REPOSITORY, see Wikipedia:External links and Wikipedia:Spam. There is even a special template, {{Cleanup-spam}}, which warns that there is a threat of linkfarming/spamming in a particular article. `'mikka 01:45, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but it's not so clear that these guidelines and policies apply to a list of books. --Ronz 04:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There was no problems with too long lists of books. For example Joseph Stalin#Further reading, has a really long one, but no one complains. One cannot invent all possible precautions and safeguards in advance. If ever we face the problem of abusive "book spamming", I am sure we will deal with it. `'mikka 15:53, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Do I understand correctly that WP:RS rules do not apply to "Further reading" references that were not used as a source for the article? I mean sources like that: His biography by SourceWatch. In my opinion, such links can be helpful for Wikipedia readers, although they do not qualify as reliable sources. Biophys 23:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

I would argue that at a minimum, these should carry the same burden as WP:EL#Links_normally_to_be_avoided ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:35, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. But it asks to avoid "any site that misleads the reader by use of factually inaccurate material or unverifiable research. See Wikipedia:Attribution#Reliable sources". Does it mean that any links in the article must satisfy WP:RS? Actually, links like that Links to his articles Links to articles about him can be very helpful. I guess, these specific links do not mislead the reader, so they are probably O'K as supplementaly links but not as a source. Biophys 23:42, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
It also say: "Links normally to be avoided... Links to open wikis, except those with a substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors.". One could argue that wikis like SourceWatch have "a substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors".Biophys 01:33, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Can we freeze everything while we work on this?

I was afraid this would happen... as soon as we made NOR, V, and RS active again people started trying to change them. This is not the time to let these policies and guideline change. People need to see things in the version they were when the merge took place to decide if they agree with it or not. May I suggest that all the relevant pages be locked until the poll is over at least. Blueboar 00:12, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

I would support that wholeheartedly. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:19, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I do also, and I have protected WP:NOR, WP:V and WP:RS until the WP:ATT situation stabilizes. Crum375 00:37, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Please protect also ATT. It is now only protected for new/unregistered users. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:45, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Done. Crum375 00:50, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Please unprotect ATT. I was in the process of making changes that have been discussed on this talk page for some time now, and which are necessary to bring the definition of original research we have on this policy into alignment with the definition used at WP:NOR, which they have now strayed apart from, particularly by not specifying that material is only original research if it serves to advance a position. JulesH 08:04, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree, although I don't want to edit; we should have some page on which to try wordings. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:33, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I would suggest that from now until at least the poll results are in and there is some semblance of stability, we refrain from changes to the policies proper unless there is a wide consensus agreed upon on the ATT Talk page. Crum375 13:55, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with slowing down things a bit for a while. We need the stability until things can become clear on how to proceed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 14:26, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with slowness; but a freeze is beyond slowness. Nobody has been edit-warring, as far as I can see. Amd waiting for a poll which may not come off (see its most recent comments) is a bad idea. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I do not see these protections staying for more than a day or two. It simply affords us some respite until things become clearer on how to proceed. We do not need to rush anything given what has happened. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:12, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
If someone has a suggestion for a change, they can always raise it on the talk page, to be discussed and implimented once we know where to impliment it. Blueboar 15:15, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Please see #Original Research definition -- unified discussion (hopefully) above. I believe this change is important and should be made ASAP to prevent a contradictory definition of OR existing. JulesH 15:23, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:RS should not be protected, as its ultimate disposition is an entirely different matter than the current ATT/V/NOR dispute. I'm also opposed to protecting any of these pages, but the lock-down at WP:RS in particular appears to be a conflict of interest. There is no consensus to protect that page, and the protecting admin is an active party in the debates here. (NB: I am not referring to WP:COI, I mean "conflict of interest" in its more general sense, and I am not alleging any bad faith. Just to be clear, since a number of people seem to enjoy misinterpreting me around here. :-) NB: The RS protection has locked the page in a state in which material was removed from it without consensus. Maybe that sounds like a "Wrong Version" argument, but at least myself, Centrx, DGG and Thoric want to restore the deleted clarification, and no one that I recall has questioned the restoration. Even the reverter, Blueboar, says "I understand the points you are all making... but right now is not the time to be fixing it." Give that consensus for merging WP:RS into WP:ATTFAQ has been questioned, WP:RS is in fact an active guideline, so now emphatically is the time to fix this problem. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:39, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Strong objection

I have a strong objection to the new, proposed wording "not whether it is true" in a context unqualified by a word such as "verifiability". I request that users SlimVirgin, Crum375 and jossi indicate recognition that I have a strong objection; that there is a dispute; and that there is not currently consensus for this wording. I invite these users and anyone else interested in this issue to discuss it in the "#Role of truth" section on this talk page with the purpose of arriving at a consensus about what the wording should be. --Coppertwig 17:07, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Just as a matter of process, I would suggest that the new material at issue be removed until consensus is reached on it. That seems reasonable to me. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:16, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
NB: See also #It doesn't look to me as if there was a consensus., which also raises some concerns with the passage in question. I'm not offering an opinion on the matter at this time, because I'm trying behave more mediatorially than opinionally. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:19, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
PS: At very least User:Coppertwig, User:Beit Or and User:Lethiere all seem to share the same (i.e. non-random or not out-of-left-field) concerns about this text, at #Role of truth, so I think that is a clear indication that it doesn't have consensus yet. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:23, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Request unprotection of page

I request that the policy page be unprotected, at least temporarily, for the following reasons:

  • If it is to be protected while there is a discussion as to whether it is policy or not, then first it should have a tag at the top announcing that this is the situation; currently it has a policy tag.
  • There is no consensus that this page is policy. Users need to be able to revert the policy tag.
  • There is no consensus (and never was) on the new, unqualified "not whether it is true" wording.
  • The user who protected the page (Crum375) is a party to a currently ongoing content dispute on the page (the user reverted one of my attempts to address the problem about the "not whether it is true" wording, and this issue has not yet been resolved -- see Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth.) If the page is to be protected, it should be done by an admin who is not involved in any currently ongoing content disputes on the page.

--Coppertwig 17:42, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Coppertwig, if you feel anything needs to change on WP:ATT, please try to achieve consensus here first. Whether the page is protected or not will not change your ability to modify the policy, since if you don't have a wide consensus here, you'd be quickly reverted anyway. A policy page is in general not a good place to edit war, and specifically now, when we are waiting for the straw poll and the status of the component pages to stabilize, any non-consensual changes would be counterproductive and disruptive. And by the way, I am not in 'content dispute' with you - I have not decided even on the merit of your changes - my only point is that a wide consensus is needed prior to making them. Crum375 19:39, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed with Crum375 that editwarring is bad, but I don't feel a need to assume (bad faith) that Coppertwig will necessarily engage in editwarring. To the extent that the new material does not have consensus (which it evidently does not), it should be removed for the very reasons Crum375 gives. And something should definitely be done about the Policy tag, which is confusing to everyone; I think it should probably get the Disputedpolicy tag. Open to discussion about that of course. Anyway, I don't see any justification for the page protection. Discussion here and at the Poll talk page and at the FAQ talk page appears to be happening and to be reasonably civil. A whole lot has changed in the last 2 days, so maybe give people credit that they can understand this and behave accordingly? If editwarring resumes, I think it would be a lot more proper to go to WP:RFPP and have a disinterested party restore the protection. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:11, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
"Consensus" is not the accurate term here; "turf war" is -- at least in the absence of any Wikipedia operational definition for "consensus," such as through a Wikipedia-wide straw poll. As the historic record shows, for the past four months over 50% of Wikipedia editors have been against this merger because of the 1) incoherence and 2) lack of consensus in the Attribution policy formulation. But those who revert improvements in grammar and clarity in Wikipedia policy text do hold the turf for periods as long as four months at a time, as you note. --Rednblu 20:17, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm honestly trying to avoid disputation of this sort. I don't see that it has been very useful here thus far, and tempers have been getting out of control (see for example AGF and CIVIL and bordernline NPA accusations made against me at the Poll's talk page.) I'm not entire happy about the four or five or whatever months of policy formation that have not involved enough parties. But I think the point has been made pretty clearly, and the debate is no longer "was this done properly?", it is "what do we do now?" I share your concerns that some parties have been trying too hard to exert control over what this document says. But I now also believe that enough people who feel differently than those editors do that the problem will be self-resolving. WP:N had a similar problem back in Nov. - Dec. 2006, but since Feb. 2007 has been in vastly better shape. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:30, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I would suggest that unprotection be done after some consensus for that is reached. Otherwise, we'd be setting the stage for editwarring on our critical core content policies, and potentially wheelwarring. I welcome others' thoughts on this. Crum375 20:24, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
"Consensus" for what though? Three editors don't make a consensus to protect. At least three editors with the same disputes with regard to recently added changes indicates that the change hasn't earned consensus yet, so it should be removed for now. As this is presently the most-disputed policy/guideline page in all of WP, marking it with Disputedpolicy seems wise. What's there's left to fight about right now? I may be missing a big dispute somewhere - this is an awfully long page - but these seem to be the issues that are presently being raised, and which aren't matters that needs to wait for the poll. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:35, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Nice ideas. Let's explore these ideas for a second. How can we know whether there is a "consensus"? There seem to be four different and jarring concepts of "consensus" right here in this short exchange among us. Where is the clear and coherent policy guidance that would clarify for us what "consensus" means so that we could move on--instead of having to reinvent among those who happen to be here right now what "consensus" is? --Rednblu 20:42, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I daresay "consensus" is code for "we get our way because we outnumber you, like it or not". This is not the same as "everyone agreed that it was an acceptable compremise".
Why not just say that 85% is a supermajority and that your side "won the vote"? The minority of 15% can then be "opposed" or "undecided". --Uncle Ed 20:55, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:CONSENSUS. This one isn't really a hard question. :-) To any extent that people can't even agree on what consensus means in any pariticular application, consensus hasn't been reached yet on that matter, by definition. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:08, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There was no consensus to protect it in the first place and your protection of these pages is not in accordance with wiki philosophy or Wikipedia:Protection policy. Wikipedia, including its policy pages, is an open wiki, and page protection is not a pre-emptive measure. —Centrxtalk • 21:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. I brought this up at WP:RFPP, and amazingly another admin who is a party to the disputes here went and closed it as no-unprotect! I re-opened the issue, as the "no" closing was clearly a conflict of interest. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:01, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I think we're all trying to assume good faith here by presuming that Crum375 was protecting the page to preserve stability during a major policy debate, but yes, technically protecting the page was a violation of the protection policy as he was party to an ongoing edit war. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 22:03, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
For my part I put that down to en error in judgement made in good faith, just to be clear on that myself. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:10, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree with SMcCandlish on this one, and I'm even going to take it a step further: protecting this page in its current form is having a vastly detrimental and at the very least disruptive effect on Wikipedia. I'm not assuming bad faith here; even if your motivations were pure as the undriven snow you have effectively saved a highly disputed policy in a format which both preserves (and effectively enforces) the most contentious of its sections, as well as leaving it in a form which does not in any way communicate the current status of this policy. (i.e. that it is disputed, currently being re-evaluated, and is not to be considered a final draft) At the very least there should be mention of the possibly massive overhaul that is being debated, as well as mention of the ongoing straw poll. (Kind of hard to evaluate a vote when very few people participate) -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 21:00, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
If you have issues with existing policy, that's fine, but it's not the time for you to try to change policy. Let's deal with the policies as they've existed for many months, and try to see how people feel about merging them. After that's done, you can try to get consensus for changing them in the way you wish. Jayjg (talk) 21:03, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Now you're putting words in my mouth. Nobody said anything about changing policy. Changing the page, maybe, but the only changes I was talking about were notices establishing that WP:ATT is disputed and currently experiencing a huge debate over its content. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 21:56, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
yukichigai, there isn't an ongoing straw poll. There is a poll currently being formulated that will open in a few days. I don't think it's necessary to put notice of the poll on policy pages before it even starts. --Minderbinder 21:08, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Umm... Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll already existing would seem to indicate otherwise. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 21:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
The poll itself isn't open yet (unless that just changed), but the larger point that the dispute is active is certainly undebatable. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:00, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Yukichigai, Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll indicates exactly what I said. They're working on wording, but actual polling isn't going on yet. Do you see any !votes on it? No. In a few days it will open, and people will participate. --Minderbinder 13:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
As it stands, the page is policy, and there has been no indication that that has changed; even Jimbo, who seemed to be objecting to the consolidation of policy onto one page, has stated that this is policy, and the other pages are merely an elucidation. There's no pressing need to modify this in any way, and in particular there is no pressing need for any fairly new editors to push change into the policies. This page (and the other policy pages) should remain protected until the straw poll is complete, so people are able to make rational assessments of existing policy, not try to judge a moving target. Jayjg (talk) 20:46, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree with that, entirely. Jimbo asked us to set up a poll to determine if there was consensus for this, and I believe the "Jimbo-SV compromise" is to treat ATT and V and NOR as policies, with different purposes, in the interim. This doesn't militate against putting a Disputedpolicy tag on ATT, since it is in fact hotly disputed. That doesn't make it a non-policy (though the poll outcome might). WP:N was tagged as disputed for several months, because it was disputed, and that tag was removed after the disputes were resolved. Simple. Wikipedian. Good.  :-) I also don't understand the page protection rationale. All WP pages are a moving targets and WPians regularly come to consensus about these moving targets. It's just how to we do things. No problem. And WP:ATT is highly unlikely to radically change; most of the changes I see proposed here are minor, if dispuatious, twiddles. No big deal really, even if people want to fight loudly about a couple of them. I think we could all use some WP:TEA and then just start with "what has or doesn't have consensus in the last version and talk about it? For the minor points that do have consensus, add them. For the minor points that don't have consensus, remove them. Then continue discussions about the contentious ones in talk until they get hammered into some form that everyone or virtually everyone is happy with. Easy stuff, really. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:08, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I personally don't see a need to edit this policy until the poll has finished, and therefore agree with Jayjg that polling on a stable page is better than polling on an unstable one. This policy (and the others that were protected as well) should be unprotected as soon as the poll finishes tho. I am also concerned that some admins will see the protection as an "only admins are allowed to edit policy pages"-type of thing tho, and would therefore like to remind everyone that no one (and that includes admins) is supposed to edit protected pages. --Conti| 21:22, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
The problem is that the current "stable" page seems to endorse the current revision. In cases of protections done to stop edit wars the page in question is usually tagged with something indicating why it is protected, which ALWAYS mentions that "protection is not an endorsement of the current revision." The current page lacks that, and by omission it would seem to indicate an endorsement of the current revision. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 21:45, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
This is to Conti, not Yukichigai (edit conflict): What policy are you citing on that rule? If admins can't edit protected pages then {{Editprotected}} would never work. And WP:RFPP specifically recommended the use of Template:Editprotected (edit|talk|history|links|watch|logs) in this case within the last few hours, so you are contradicting WP:RFPP (and more to the point the RFPP justification for leaving the block in place right now!) Anyway, the "moving target" concern has been addressed, but that addressing was not rebutted. Echoing concerns that have already been addressed doesn't seem to add much to the debate. I don't mean this in a snotty way, I'm just asking if you can be clearer about what your concerns are? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:50, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I probably should've been a bit more clear. What I mean is this: "Admins should not edit pages that are protected due to a content dispute, unless all parties agree to the change". There are of course enough situations where admins can and should edit protected pages, for example a requested edit through {{editprotected}}, as you said. But I've seen it in the past that protected pages were edited like normal pages, and just wanted to point out that there should be a very clear consensus on this talk page before an edit is made. Maybe I'm just a bit too paranoid about that, who knows. --Conti| 22:07, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Gotcha. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:10, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Don't panic! :-) The page will eventually be unprotected of course, maybe in five minutes, maybe in two weeks. I hope people will be reasonable on both sides. Please let people remove 'the new, unqualified "not whether it is true" wording' that is distressing to so many (if it really is important after some debate and rewording it will find its way back in there); at least three different editors have identical problems with it, so it self-evidently doesn't have consensus yet. Let someone put the Disputedpolicy tag on (note that doesn't mean replacing the Policy tag with a Proposal tag, or other changes that aren't, to my knowledge, being discussed, nor does it mean "this isn't a policy any longer"; {{Disputedpolicy}} exists for a reason, and this is a textbook case for it.) On the other side, please don't rush in to change all kinds of stuff you feel strongly about but for which there isn't a strong talk page consensus (#Line-by-line criticism for example raises some interesting points but they haven't been discussed long). Pretty simple, really. Emotions have run very high here and it is time for us all to try to calm down and work together, I think. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:44, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with user SMcCandlish that the page needs a "disputedpolicy" tag. Either there is a dispute or there is not. Since a poll is being prepared, apparently there is a dispute. If there were no dispute, there would be no reason for the page protection. --Coppertwig 23:48, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There is wide consensus about the contents of this page. There is a poll to decide whether the text should be on one page, but there's no disagreement about the policy itself. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Please actually read the template; it is not about minor content disputes in policy pages, but about their status as policy pages; see Template talk:Disputedpolicy for more information. WP:ATT as a policy is disputed, more so than any other on Wikipedia. Again, using that tag does not mean "This is not a policy"; it notifies editors that there is a debate of some importance that they may well want to weigh in on. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:53, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with user SlimVirgin. There is no wide consensus on the contents of the page; see Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Strong objection and Wikipedia talk:Attribution#It doesn't look to me as if there was consensus. Also, the poll is about whether the page is policy at all, among other things. Furthermore, as someone involved in the disputes, user SlimVirgin, you should not be editing the protected page. Would someone please restore the tags of the version of 12:48 by Majorly, or, preferably, the version of 9:01 by Radant!? Thanks. --Coppertwig 13:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that would be the best thing to do. An admin not a party to the disputes here properly templated this page with the standard protected-due-to-dispute tag, based on formal requests to do so at WP:RFPP. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:55, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:ATT: Join the discussion at

Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion

≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:13, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Propose merging of that new page into this one, to prevent any further fragmentation of the debate. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:17, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Oppose merger as disruptive. That discussion is already taking up a dozen sections on this talk page, and many elsewhere. Better to have it at one place. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:22, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Oppose being labelled "disruptive", as an unprovoked and unjustified assumption of bad faith and therefore a direct personal attack; already cautioned others here against such accusations. To get back to the point, the very fact that the discussion is already taking up a lot of room here argues against creating yet another page to discuss it on. It will result in an enormous pile of duplicative arguments, many of them already too heated. This seems like simply throwing fuel on the fire. It is better to have it at one place: here, where it's already been. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:40, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I find this "disruptive" label really ironic given that I have spent literally all day long in here trying to moderate disputes and reduce the heat of the arguments. <sigh>. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:42, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Do directly object to merger proposal, as detailed elsewhere. Hiding Talk 00:26, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
As do I. The new page is a good idea. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand the difference. What should be discussed on this page, and what should be discussed on that page? --Conti| 03:12, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
That page is for people to give their opinion on the merger of V and NOR into one page here, ATT; it's a meta page, in other words. This talk page is to discus the policy itself, ask for clarification, ask for advice about sources, and so on. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:14, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. --Conti| 03:18, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
That actually more or less works even for me, but with caveats already given at the new page about not dismissing debates that have already taken place here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:49, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • That's a reasonable distinction, but if we're going to make it (as opposed to merging) someone should watchlist both and move any threads that spring up in the wrong place to the other side. >Radiant< 09:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Is this a reliable source?

Is [10] a reliable source for this:

"The south end was opened up in 2003 and the new plan was put into effect on September 20, 2004."

It's self-published, but the author has been cited by newspapers, including:

New York Times: "They were converted from horse power to an electric conduit system around 1898, said Joseph Brennan, a railroad and subway enthusiast who has created an..."
New York Sun: "There are eight completely abandoned subway stations, a subway historian, Joseph Brennan, said."
Columbia Daily Spectator: "According to Joseph Brennan, Columbia Senior User Services Consultant, who also studies subway history and life, the City Hall station was one of the first..."

I have not been able to find any newspaper articles or MTA press releases describing this change, but multiple sources which may be unreliable confirm the September 20, 2004 date. --NE2 23:13, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Does anybody dispute the assertion? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:29, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Not as far as I know. --NE2 00:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
NE2, he wouldn't be an RS for anything contentious, but if this isn't disputed, you could perhaps use him but attribute the edit to him in the text. Something like "according to Joseph Brennan, a private xxx enthusiast ..." Strictly speaking, only professional self-published sources may be used, so if anyone objected to that edit, it would have to be removed, but the point is that no one is likely to object (reasonably) if the material is completely non-contentious. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:08, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
You do know that some people object to such references on principle, right? Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with using the source in this case, but there's always someone who'll remove such a source because "it isn't a reliable source". --Conti| 03:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Why should there be a lower standard of verifiability for non-contentious material? Aren't there people who come along and read the encyclopedia every once in awhile rather than just editing? Isn't saying a source is good enough until challenged pretty much the same as saying it is not a reliable source?—eric 04:07, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
All sources have limitations and if we only had claims that were without doubt by anyone we would only have a blank page. The point is to be as useful and credible and accurate as we possibly can be so we have all these policies to help us do that. But the policies only work in the context of intelligent people using good sense. The policies can not substitute for actual informed understanding and reasonable judgement. Keep in mind our objective to produce an unbiased free (libre) credible encyclopedia and you won't go far wrong. WAS 4.250 06:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
"Completely non-contentious" could cover 80?, 90? percent of Wikipedia content. Would this source be appropriate for a good article? a featured article? or only the obscure articles which few editors are likely to visit? If, as you rightly suggest, an editor familiar with the subject matter uses good sense and decides this source is appropriate to use why should some random editor be able to come along and force it's removal? Or why should an editor working on non-contentious material be able to slack off and apply a lower standard of verifiability? I read SV's statement as: this source is good enough for our readers, but not good enough for any random editor that stops by the article.—eric 08:09, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

I see this person's research is referenced several times in wikipedia. After brief googling, I see that it is possible to write a wikipedia article, in which, using solid references, it may and should be demonstrated that Brennan is a recognized expert in this very narrow topic. After that he will easily fit the provision that self-publishing of an expert are amdissible references in his field of expertise. `'mikka 06:29, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

An inquiry on the synthesis policy (copied from here)

The current policy currently states that if A and B are both reliable sources, they still cannot be used together to advance opinion C. Specifically, "In other words, that precise analysis must have been published by a reliable source in relation to the topic before it can be published in Wikipedia."

But I have question on basis of logical reasoning. In philosophy, we call the idea hypothetical syllogism. The argument goes as follows: If Q, then R. If P, then Q. Therefore, if P, then R. This is a deductively valid argument. If P and Q are both true, then R is logically true as well. For example, consider the following argument: All cats are mammals. All mammals are warmblooded. Therefore, all cats are warmblooded. If we provide a reference for the first premise (all cats are mammals) and different reference for the second premise (all mammals are warmblooded), would we be be allowed to use that as justification for writing within an article "all cats are warmblooded"? ~ UBeR 01:24, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Hi UBeR, deductions are fine so long as they're obvious and don't serve to advance a position. If they do, you would need to find a source who made the argument in relation to the topic of the article. See here. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:29, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Hi UBeR. To expand on SlimVirgin's response, it's important to note that in controversial cases, where facts and arguments are widely disputed, we need to be particularly strict about sticking closely to sources. For an article about biology, it would be perfectly acceptable to draw the conclusion about cats that you draw above, as this is a noncontroversial conclusion that is not in conflict with relevant sources. However, in a controversial case, such as reporting on a political dispute, it is not appropriate for Wikipedia to put forward arguments even if they are logically valid and the premises are based on impeccable sources. This is because Wikipedia's role as an encyclopedia is to report on the debates that have actually occurred, not to participate in these debates or provide a platform for people to advance new arguments. This is why the edits to the article you were editing at The Great Global Warming Swindle were labelled as original research. Enchanter 01:57, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. ~ UBeR 02:18, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for both the question and the answer. The question effectively nails down the common misconception that it is not original research if you provide bits of data that are individually verifiable from separate sources, and then either draw or lead the reader to draw an essentially original picture as a conclusion (whether deductive or otherwise). The answer explains why we do regard this as original research unless the conclusion itself is either non-controversial or attributable to a secondary source. Basically, we are not here to conduct our own investigations but merely to report what is already "out there". For that reason alone, the prohibition on original research is not just a matter of individual pieces of data being verifiable. There can be grey areas ("How controversial is this conclusion?" might sometimes be a question) but if the conclusion drawn is somehow tendentious or potentially harmful to someone we definitely regard it as controversial. Metamagician3000 03:46, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Formal logic is a wonderful thing. Did you know that "If (all cats are ten feet tall) then (black is black)" is logically speaking a necessarily true statement in formal logic? WAS 4.250 06:20, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
It's still not valid logic because it's a misuse of the if-then format. It's only true because if the premise has nothing to do with the conclusion, then I own a pet rabbit. --tjstrf talk 07:00, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Tjstrf is correct. WAS 4.250, your argument implies nothing. Your premise is false. Discern between valid and true. There's quite a difference, albeit not mutually exclusive. ~ UBeR 17:19, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
The difficulty here is that while it's easy to think of phrases like "All As are B" and "Jones is an A" as stone fact in formal logic, we rarely meet such an animal in the real world. We find that very few things are true of all "A"s -- there seem to be exceptions here and there. Then we find out there there are different views on whether Jones really is an "A" or not, different views of what it means to be a "B", and whether any A is a B or not turns out to be just someone's conjecture or opinion and someone else disagrees. So it often happens that when we put two people's opinions together to draw an inference, we end up with an original view that neither of the two sources (and perhaps nobody else) would actually agree with -- the person who thinks Jones is an A might have a completely different idea about what an A (or a B) is from the person who thinks all As are Bs. Best, --Shirahadasha 15:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Well said; these are all very good points. When editors apply formal logic to justify the inclusion of OR, they often ignore the fact that they're (perhaps unintentionally) making a number of assumptions. The world is full of exceptions and loopholes and almost never operates by formal logic. ChazBeckett 15:32, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
And you said well too. Even the words "or" and "and" may have different meanings in formal logic and in English language. `'mikka 16:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Arg, but it's a simple matter of substitution. We've learned this mathematically in grade school. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 2 + 1 = 3 (1 + 1) + 1 = 3 If we have references for the first two statements, we can logically write the third. A think there can be problems with implication and this rule. For example, take a pundit who has proclaimed, "All liberals are unpatriotic! I hate liberals. Anyone who is unpatriotic is un-American! balrgh blargh blargh..." By this nature, we could explain that the pundit believes liberals are un-American despite the fact he did not say that directly! In an attempts to figure out implication, because some things might be so obvious they are refrained from even being said directly, we come across a problem of synthesis.

Lest we digress though, my current situation is a bit more complicated. The Great Global Warming Swindle is a documentary film that presents its opinion that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is a swindle. Instead, they argue natural forcings are responsible for the recent warming trend. Obviously, this is against the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change, in which it is believed humans are the cause of global-warming. What we are trying to write is the film "argues against the predominant scientific opinion on climate change as given in the peer-reviewed scientific literature[3][β] and recognised by the scientific academies of the major industrialized nations [1] and other professional scientific bodies." (You can read the Royal Academy's reference on this as well as the G8 signatories here.) One comrade has pointed out, however, this is in violation of the synthesis policy because obviously the film never stated specifically "we disagree with the G8 nations' stance on global warming, but it's basically implied from the film. There have been constant edit warring, even by administrators who you'd think know better but don't, and most recently it has been fully protected. Thoughts? ~ UBeR 22:00, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

To address your specific situation first, if the film only "basically implies" something, why should be presenting it any differently? The article should include only what is presented in the film. It's up to readers to decide what the film implies. To address your points more generally, it's a fundamental mistake to equate the imprecise language of everyday speech with the precise language of mathmatics or logic. Trying to apply formal logic to someone's comments is a futile endeavor. Your pundit example clearly shows the problem with attempting to synthesize a person's comments. Some people are fond of exaggeration and hyperbole, making it nearly impossible to parse their statement in a logical manner. ChazBeckett 20:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank for your explanation, ChazBeckett. One problem I think it's based off in climate related articles here on Wikipedia is that it is common for people to write "Scientist X goes against the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change" (they often use that article for the basis of their claim), despite the fact Scientist X never stated that! Instead, Scientist X is merely presenting other data that argues against what most climate scientist agree as anthropogenic global warming. This issue, if in fact it constitutes synthesis, is widespread among the climate related articles. I think that in creating articles, such scientific opinion on climate change and scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming, which, in my opinion, are most likely POV forks, only foster to spread the idea of original synthesis. ~ UBeR 22:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Very logical merger: proof

The merger was very logical and not just bunching together unrelated policies and here is the proof.

The first step is to ask how one can verify something to be true. Well there are two ways:

  1. By doing your own research. (WP:OR)
  2. By relying on other people's research. (WP:ATT)

So, we have WP:V = WP:OR + WP:ATT.

Hence, WP:ATT = WP:V - WP:OR.

Now, we compute WP:V - WP:OR = WP:V - (-WP:NOR) = WP:V + VP:NOR.

And we have proven that WP:ATT = WP:V + WP:NOR.

It's one of the most compelling philosophical proofs I've ever seen... unless it's a false dichotomy. :) --Merzul 02:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't think anyone doubts that there are relationships between the policies on verifiability and on not using original research - or that you could include both in one document if you wanted to. That's not really the issue, even if your proof works (which I rather doubt for all sorts of reasons, but that's beside the point). Metamagician3000 03:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
The flaws in this logic:
  • there is no WP:OR policy.
  • who told you that - (-WP:NOR) = WP:NOR?
  • And yes there is a dichotomy with very interesting consequences and probably not what you expect: for your calculation to be true, you have to assume that WP:OR and WP:ATT don't have a common part, in other words, WP:OR (i.e., "your own research" (including the discussed one) doesn't have common sense :-) `'mikka 06:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Finally, in wikipedia WP:OR=WP:NOR, eat flaming death you nasty troll, who distracts me from the most important work of screwing up wikipedia policies! `'mikka
Well, policy statements are not quantities. Nor are they propositions. It's true in propositional calculus that ~~ p = p, but this is not propositional calculus. Metamagician3000 07:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
In other words, you are saying that there is no logic in wikipedia policies. Well, this expains much :-) `'mikka 08:20, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
That's not the case at all; these are different entities. In maths, two negatives make a positive. In policy, two bads do not make a good. Let's not be silly here... Waggers 10:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Hehe, in the case you didn't notice the whole section from the very begining intended to be silly. By the way my phrase was, like, ha ha only serious: the policies do not necessarily require logic: sometimes they are postulates. E.g. wikipedia is .. where everyone can edit. This is a postulate which does not require any logic to be stated. "WP:NOR" is basically a postulate in its core: wikipedia just doesn't allow you to publish your own musings (while blogs allow this; in fact this is their primary purpose). `'mikka 16:17, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
These issues actually do arise in mathematics, particularly in statistics. See Law of the excluded middle. A number of mathematical systems exist for coping with a world without such a law. See e.g. Intuitionism#Truth and proof for a discussion of the issues involved and the way they are discussed in mathematical thinking. Best, --Shirahadasha 15:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Attribution introduction

In my opinion the WP:ATT introductory sentence should find a more "topic-like" sentence feel. Currently it uses a perjorative tone. I think something more along the lines of:

"When editing a Wikipedia article it is important to take a Neutral point of view, be Respectful to living persons and families of the departed, as well as contributing Accurate information. One can be sure their information is accurate by using Reliable and Verifiable sources; Also, do not contribute Original Research or personal ideas."

And then we can add the - This is not your f'n playground, so walk carefully, you are on thin ice:P Niubrad 19:41, 4 April 2007 (UTC)


Role of truth

Now available at /Role of truth.

We are exploring the extent to which WP:ATT 1) does or 2) does not include operationally the standards set forth in "Verifiability, not truth." --Rednblu 22:53, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Page protection notice

What happened to it, particularly the part that mentions "protection is not an endorsement of the current revision"? That's kind of the most important part of the notice. The current page revision makes it seem like the page is a-ok and that there are just some minor or trivial squabblings going on. It does not in any way properly communicate how drastic and significant a debate this is. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 17:31, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't see how it's a "drastic or significant" debate. :-) I worry that some of the people posting on this page aren't familiar with the policies. There was no change from V and NOR to ATT. Therefore, the issue is whether we have them on one page or two. The spirit and letter of the policies remains unchanged either way. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
There's an upcoming straw poll to determine whether or not the policy should even exist, Jimbo had to get involved due to editor complaints, and the page has been protected due to edit warring. Sounds like significant debate to me. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 17:40, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
P.S.: "There was no change from V and NOR to ATT." - that sentence sums up one side of a major element of the debate. It isn't fact, merely opinion. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 17:42, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
No, it's fact. If you think there was change, can you quote something that's substantively different? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:44, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
The burden of proof lies with the assertation. It's this kind of squabbling which is EXACTLY why the main page needs the full protection notice. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 19:27, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
If you think there was no change, then how about if those of us who think there is a change just put things back the way they were originally; you won't notice any difference at all, right?
I agree with Yukichigai: the current notice, "This page has been protected temporarily to ensure stability until the current discussions about policy are completed", does not communicate the depth of the dispute. --Coppertwig 21:23, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
It should have the stock protection notice, regardless how "drastic or significant" anything is, a matter I won't presently offer an opinion on. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:50, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Something that's substantively different: See the whole "Role of truth" discussion. And if you think "attributable ... not whether it is true" is not substantively different from "verifiability, not truth", then why not revert back to the original, shorter words? I agree, at least the normal page-protection notice should be there. Furthermore, as someone deeply involved in the whole issue, SlimVirgin should not be editing the page while it is protected. Someone please revert it back to the version of 12:48 March 23 by Majorly. --Coppertwig 22:11, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
It should definitely go back to the version by Majorly. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:10, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
It has. Good. It now actually explains why this full-protection is "legal" under WP:PROT (the one at WP:RS is entirely more questionable.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:14, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Nope, sorry. ATT is policy as of Jan 2007. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Huh? This is about {{Protected}}, not {{Disputedpolicy}}. But with regard to the latter, please read previous discussion of this issue that is already around two days old. {{Disputedpolicy}} does not mean "this isn't a policy any more" (if that were the case it would be {{Historical}}); it means "there is a dispute about whether this should remain policy", and that is precisely the case here. One of the prominent poll options is whether there was every any consensus for this merge at all, and another is whether to label WP:ATT as inactive (i.e. {{Historical}}, which is where the term "inactive" derives from in this context). Please restore the Disputedpolicy template you unilaterally removed; it was proposed at WP:RFPP quite a while ago. The situation we are all in here right now is precisely what {{Disputedpolicy}} exists to identify. I know that you personally don't like the idea that WP:ATT might become inactive, but this is a distinct possibility, and misquoting Jimbo on the matter as some have been doing around here does't change that. The fuller quote is, "we hammered out a compromise until we can have a fuller discussion. What the pages say now is that WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those" (emphasis added). But anyway, that's all immaterial really. This is a disputed policy, and the Disputedpolicy template belongs here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you on this, and I fail to understand how adding the {{Disputedpolicy}} tag to the article would do anything but give an accurate picture of the ongoing situation. I'll admit I was not initially proposing that it be added to the article, but after reading the explanation of your reasoning I have to agree that it would be ideal under the circumstances. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 10:18, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
It's comments like jossi's that are making it all but impossible for me to assume good faith anymore. It shows no respect for myself, SMcCandlish, or any of the other editors who hold differing opinions. I suggest, no, demand you have the decency and civility to explain your opinions and reasoning to us when you get involved in a disussion, rather than just dismissing our opinions as wrong. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 10:18, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Merge and policy tags

Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources should have merge tags on the project pages while Wikipedia:Attribution should have a disputed policy or proposed policy tag. That way people who go to policy pages without visiting talk pages know that there is a debate going on. --Henrygb 11:55, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Absolutely, on all counts. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 18:09, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Disagree. This is a special situation triggered by Jimbo's intervention. All related pages have been protected until the debate and subsequent poll are completed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:13, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
This is not a logical argument. There is no actual consensus for the protections, and whether the pages are protected has no bearing at all on how they should be tagged. Wikipedia metadata like policy and merge templates have nothing to do with "stabilizing" the content at all (which isn't a recognizable reason for page protection under WP:PROT in the first place, I might add). — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo has explicitly indicated that for the time being, "WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those" [11], and he personally tagged WP:NOR and WP:V to explain this [12]/[13]. Therefore, merger tags would be okay, but WP:ATT clearly is policy. —David Levy 18:14, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Since this has already been addressed completely twice, and not refuted in either case, I'm simply going to repeat myself verbatim: please read previous discussion of this issue (and now here as well) that is already around two three days old. {{Disputedpolicy}} does not mean "this isn't a policy any more" (if that were the case it would be {{Historical}}); it means "there is a dispute about whether this should remain policy", and that is precisely the case here. One of the prominent poll options is whether there was ever any consensus for this merge at all, and another is whether to label WP:ATT as inactive (i.e. {{Historical}}, which is where the term "inactive" derives from in this context). Please restore the Disputedpolicy template you unilaterally removed; it was proposed at WP:RFPP quite a while ago. The situation we are all in here right now is precisely what {{Disputedpolicy}} exists to identify. I know that you personally don't like the idea that WP:ATT might become inactive, but this is a distinct possibility, and misquoting Jimbo on the matter as some have been doing around here does't change that. The fuller quote is, "we hammered out a compromise until we can have a fuller discussion. What the pages say now is that WP:ATT is canonical, and WP:V and WP:NOR exist as separate pages to more fully describe those" (emphasis added). But anyway, that's all immaterial really. This is a disputed policy, and the Disputedpolicy template belongs here. PS: Jossi, your failure to actually explain your rationale and to keep insisting that you are right without any jusification for the position is already causing another editor to question your civility and good faith, up above. You might want to reconsider this tactic. Your re-insistence on already-refuted positions is not rational debate. David, please read Template talk:Disputedpolicy; your concern is a common but mistaken one; the fact that WP:ATT is for now policy is the very reason that the template in question exists; disputes about policy need to be noted prominently to garner maximum involvement and to not mislead editors about what is going on. If WP:ATT had been made non-policy by Jimbo, then the Disputedtemplate could not be put on it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:11, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Further note to David: I see that you've actually been active on that talk page before, and agreed with the template's existence and seemed to understand why it exists and how/when/where it applies, so I'm a bit boggled as to your comment above. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:58, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid that it's you who misunderstands the intended application of {{disputedtag}}. Its purpose is to indicate that a page might not actually be a policy or guideline right now, not to express the opinion that a policy or guideline should be demoted. Henrygb also suggested the application of {{proposed}}, which obviously doesn't apply. —David Levy 20:49, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
That's two ways of saying the same thing. I repeat: One possible outcome of the poll is that WP:ATT will be made inactive (which probably means {{Historical}}, though it could conceivably be {{Rejected}}, not that the distiction matters right here). As with others, I disagree with the term "demoted"; I don't think there's any such thing. Either something is or isn't policy. In order to have the Disputedtag at all, something has to be a policy in the first place; the tag indicates that there is substantial disagreemet with whether the label "policy" actually applies to something, and that is the case here, or "ATT made inactive" would not be an available option. Read the plain wording of the poll, Jimbo's concerns, and the template. "This page's designation as a policy or guideline is disputed" is the wording on the template. Making WP:ATT inactive is by definition a change of the page's designation (probably to Historical). PS: Yes, "Proposed" is clearly wrong. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:33, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
1. No, that is not two ways of saying the same thing. You still don't understand {{disputedtag}}'s meaning. It is not for use to indicate a dispute as to whether something should be a policy/guideline. (If it were, practically every policy and guideline would be tagged.) It's to indicate a dispute as to whether something is a policy/guideline. Regardless of whether this should be a policy, we know for a fact that it is.
2. I also disagree with the "demotion" terminology. That's why I used it to describe a situation that doesn't exist.
3. The template's wording (which I authored, incidentally) refers to the page's current designation, not to any future designation. Jimbo has indicated that WP:ATT presently is policy, so this designation cannot reasonably be disputed. It might eventually change, but that isn't what the template refers to. —David Levy 23:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I believe you've miscast my argument. I've never said what you bring up in point #1, and already said just the opposite: {{Disputedtag}} cannot be placed on something that isn't already a policy or guidline; I don't think anyone, anywhere, ever has sugested that {{Disutedtag}} is equivalent to {{Proposal}}; that would just be silly (nor that WP:ATT should be tagged with the latter, which would also be silly). That you have edited the template, along with numerous others, doesn't strike me as particularly relevant, much less authoritative. About the only message I can reasonably take away from what you have said is that you believe it makes sense to oppose addition of this template, until the moment the poll opens, and oppose for now only because in this one special case Jimbo has said something you interpret as trumping all other definitions of "designation as a policy is disputed". If this is not what you are implying, perhaps you can clarify. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
1. I've tried very hard to clarify, but you still don't understand what I'm saying or what {{disputedtag}} means. Again, it does not apply to a situation in which someone believes that a policy/guideline should no longer be a policy/guideline (which probably is true of every policy/guideline). It's for use when someone believes that something isn't a policy/guideline but has been falsely tagged as one. Jimbo has the authority to create policy, so there is no possibility that this page has been improperly tagged as such.
2. I cited the fact that I authored the wording because you're quoting it as evidence that the tag means something that it doesn't. —David Levy 00:23, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
That is not what the template actually says; it says that the designation as a guideline/policy is disputed. Disputes of that nature can arise for reasons other than false tagging. If your overly narrow interpretation were the only one possible, then the template would simply be TfD'd in a heartbeat as totally useless, because false tagging of things as guidelines is simply reverted on sight. If you don't believe me, go write some random essay and slap a guideline tag on it. We'll probably just have to agree to disagree on this issue; you don't believe my view, I don't believe yours, and I don't think we're going to change our opinions on the matter. You seem to be confirming that your template history citation is a claim to non-existent authority; you were only one of many people who worked on the wording there, and your interpretation isn't automatically any more valid than that of others. Meanwhile the template's talk page supports my view. I explained uses for this template months ago, and they have not been refuted, and they countered interpretations that really didn't make sense, such as "someone doesn't like this policy/guideline". But really, with the newly widespread advertising of the community discussion page my reasons for insisting on the template's presence here are effectively moot, so I don't particularly want to continue this circular argument any longer. I'm happy with my interpretation, and you seem to be with yours, so "oh well".  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
1. Yes, it says that the designation as a guideline/policy is disputed. That means that someone has designated the page a policy/guideline and someone else believes that it isn't one. It does not mean that someone believes that the designation should be changed. If your overly broad interpretation were correct, nearly every policy/guideline page would bear this tag at all times.
2. The template was TfD'd by a user who shared your misunderstanding. I suggest that you read the discussion.
3. Yes, if someone slaps a policy/guideline tag on a page that obviously isn't a policy/guideline, it will simply be removed. This tag is for use in a reasonable disagreement as to a page's status (e.g. some editors believe that consensus was reached, but others don't).
4. No, I'm not claiming that I possess any special authority. I'm pointing out that you're telling me what I meant when I wrote something.
5. Where on the talk page is your view supported? If your comments from January were intended to mean something along the lines of your current claims, that wasn't clear. —David Levy 03:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
User talk. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 05:11, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

It is starting to look as if there is an attempt to reduce the number of people participating in the debate. Which was one the problems with the original change. --Henrygb 19:21, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, the irony of this blows my mind, as does the seeming inability of some to notice it, at WP:RFPP, WP:RFC/POLICIES, WP:VPP, and WP:AN. I'm going the mediation route next. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Fortunately the new WP-wide watchlist banner basically makes this effect (intentional or not) moot. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Just put a tag that says "this was supposed to be a policy that replaced __ and __ and __ but Jimbo did x so until further notice it is __". — Omegatron 20:27, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Or more to the point "...so until further notice this policy's designation is disputed. If you would like to partipate in resolving this dispute see the community discussion. The entire point of Disputedtag is that it notifies the community that there's an important issue that they may want to weigh in on. The virulent opponents of this tag don't seem to understand this and seem to believe it means "this isn't a policy any more" or "this is a bad page", which is not the case at all. <sigh> — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:40, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
The page's designation is not disputed (not reasonably, anyway). Jimbo says that it's policy (for the time being), so it's policy.
Again, you are the one who doesn't understand what {{disputedtag}} means. It's indicative of a claim that the page's designation as a policy/guideline is false, not that it's true but should be changed. —David Levy 23:46, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Which is why we're all confused as to your resistance to the use of the tag, because there is a claim that the page's designation as a policy is false. That a large part of the ongoing debate. But, again, this is somewhat moot given the watchlist notice. -- Y|yukichigai (ramble argue check) 00:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Someone is challenging Jimbo's authority? Who? Where? —David Levy 03:02, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
If user Jimbo Wales said it's policy for now until the discussion is over and we're going with that, then the disputedpolicy tag would not be appropriate because it implies there's a dispute about whether the policy applies at the moment. I like the current tag: "This page was created to serve as a combination of Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. It was believed that consensus for such a merger was reached, but that has been called into question. For the time being, this remains the canonical policy page, but the above pages retain their applicability. Pending long-term resolution of this dispute (presently under discussion), the page has been protected from editing. This is not an endorsement of the current version." It lets people know that something is happening. It wouldn't be good to have the page pretty much just say "this is policy." period if there's a discussion going on that might make it no longer policy, taking users of the page by surprise. -- the tag should indicate that there's such a discussion, which it does. However, the other pages e.g. WP:V still don't have the needed merge tags or similarly prominent tags. --Coppertwig 01:27, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Informal mediation request

{{guerrilla-mediation-request}}SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

  • What the current problem is: WP:ATT should have {{Disputedpolicy}} on it. It is the perfect example of what that template is for. The only objections to it are factually incorrect as to the purpose and meaning of the template. Main points of discussion: #Merge and policy tags (very recent), #Page protection notice (yesterday), #Request unprotection of page (2 days ago).
  • Who the people involved in the problem are: PRO: SMcCandlish (initial proponent), Henrygb (re-proponent), Majorly (WP:RFPP admin who added the tag in response to well-explained editprotected request at RFPP; not involved in any way in the WP:ATT debates), Coppertwig (general supporter), Rednblu (general supporter); CON: Jossi (reverter of tag, opposes proposal on grounds that don't match the facts), SlimVirgin (opposed original proposal on same grounds, but has not commented since, so may not oppose any longer), David Levy (opposed re-proposal on same grounds, but may not have seen refutation at that time, so may not oppose any longer).
  • What you'd like the outcome of mediation to be: For all parties to acknowledge the meaning of {{Disputedpolicy}} and that it applies here, and for the template to be applied to WP:ATT. If necessary, input from regulars at Template talk:Disputedpolicy might be helpful.

SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 19:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Give it a break, would you? This is becoming really disruptive. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 20:53, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:NPA. "Disruptive" is a blatant accusation of bad faith (cf. WP:VANDAL and WP:POINT for its definition), and accusing someone of disruptive behavior for engaging in the recommendend dispute resolution procedures of Wikipedia is...well, just really unbelievable. I'm stunned. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:56, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I'm going with WP:MEDCAB instead of of WP:GMN; GMN only seems to have two participants, one of whom savaged me on Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll two days ago... — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:58, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
If you did not know it, mediation requires the agreement of all parties. So, I hereby reject this mediation on the basis of disruption of an agreement to keep related policies locked until completion of the process set forth for checking the level of consensus for the change in policy structure. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:01, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, I'd like to second Jossi's message to you. What you are doing here is highly disruptive, and is bordering on, if not crossing into trollish behavior. We are trying to focus on finding the right wording for the straw poll requested by Jimbo, which is not an easy task. To get even more disruption here by having mediation over a template is really over the line. Please just accept that anything that does not have clear consensus must remain as it is for now, as we need stability to move forward. Thank you, Crum375 21:06, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
You have the right to reject the mediation. Oh well, I tried. I have to point out that there is no agreement to keep related policies locked. The majority of those who have responded to the issue have challeged it, not supported it. The irony in what you are saying to me is almost unbelievable. It amounts to "Consensus is important! Except when Crum375 and Jossi want something!". Please. So, no, I am not going to simply "accept" what you are trying to impose. I don't feel I need to say anything more about the matter right now, but be very clear that my decision not to argue with you any further at this time emphatically does not equate to agreement with you. PS: The fact that we're focusing on the poll and that coming to consensus on it is hard has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter I sought arbitration about. That's what's known as a "handwave", and I don't see any Jedis around here. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:40, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Hey, my friends. Can we just sit down for a creamy slice of chocolate cheesecake here? --Rednblu 21:12, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I'd prefer some WP:TEA. In fact I'm literally having some right now. PG Tips makes an intense iced tea, woo-hoo! — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:40, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I would like to point out that the Mediation Committee does not believe mediation is appropriate for policy discussions, see WP:M#What_is_mediation.3F.

Mediation is not a forum for policy decisions. If the locus of the dispute is not covered by current policy, the matter must be referred to the Wikipedia community as a whole. Under no circumstances will mediation between a small number of parties be substituted for a valid community-wide exercise in consensus building.

The Mediation Cabal probably doesn't have a statement on the issue, but I still felt this would be relevant to bring up.

Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 22:57, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

To be clearer, I wasn't seeking mediation about any policy decision matter at all, only about page protection and templating. The mediator I spoke with briefly didn't have any problem with it. I certainly would not have sought mediation for something about the policy's wording, or what should become of the policy or any such matter! — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:01, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
If you'd just like someone to suggest some ideas for a compromise, I can do that without mediating, which would be impossible because I am involved. How about one of these?
Red question mark.svg This page's designation as a policy may or may not be disputed. Please join the relevant discussion! : )
Red question mark.svg This page contains information which is considered policy. However, whether this page or Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research should be the definitive policy on these issues may or may not be disputed. Please join the relevant discussion! : )
Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:10, 25 March 2007 (UTC), 23:18, 25 March 2007 (UTC), 23:19, 25 March 2007 (UTC), 23:23, 25 March 2007 (UTC), 23:24, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Just to be absolutely clear, I am not mediating. A) I do not believe this should be mediated. B) I am involved and have an opinion on the issue. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 23:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Either of those would do the trick, though I think some may prefer the custom template farther down, as it also integrates the gist of {{Protected}}. For my part, I do want to see one of the three applied. It is only sensible, and can only help get consensus at the poll in the long run. The entire point of dispute tags of any kind is to resolve the dispute. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:02, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Microformat for citations

Please be aware of the proposal for a microformat for marking citations in (X)HTML. See also Wikipedia:WikiProject Microformats. Andy Mabbett 14:40, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

This looks like a one editor project to advertise a product[14] of questionable notability, and potential WP:COI Signed Jeepday 14:58, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Then how come there are several other editors, already helping to build microformats into Wikipedia templates? What "product" do you think I'm advertising? Since when was notability a criteria for discussion on talk pages? WP:AGF! Andy Mabbett 15:39, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
One concern that I see here is the claim for a copyright.[15] I would hope that the copyright experts can rule on its status before it is incorporated into Wikipedia, potentially tainting Wikipedia's free status. I also don't see how this issue belongs in WP:ATT. Crum375 15:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I have previously raised concerns about IP-related wording on the microforamt wiki, and have now done so again, citing your comment. The intention, though, is for an open, free standard. In any case, the format is still being "brainstormed", and you or any other person are welcome to comment in that or any other issue, on that 'wiki'. I mentioned the proposal here, as a courtesy, so that people interested - and with expertise in - making attributions had the chance to say how they think they should be represented in HTML. Might I suggest that further discussion belongs on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Microformats? I'm no longer watching this page. Andy Mabbett 00:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
All I see is a claim that the specificiation of the format is copyrighted, which is appropriate and normal IMO. Most such specifications are subject to copyright. See, e.g., the XHTML specs. JulesH 06:58, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

A look at WP:RS and how it fits with this

Also posted to the general discussion page... I notice that there is a lot of confusion and disagreement about how RS fits into all of this... some people think that RS has been merged into ATT, some people think it hasn't. Some think that ATT elevates RS to Policy, others ardently deny this. I thought I would comment -

The problem is that RS has always been a unique case... falling into a grey zone between policy and guideline status. Both WP:V and WP:NOR discuss the need for reliable sources to back our edits... so, to some degree, the concept of RS has always been a Policy statement. Saddly, neither WP:V and WP:NOR explained what was meant by the term "reliable sources", or how to determine if a source was reliable or not - so a guideline page, "WP:RS", was created take care of this. Unfortunately, the creation of that guideline page put RS into a half in / half out status... on one hand editors could say "RS is Policy" since it is prominently mentioned in several Policy page... but on the other hand, editors could say "no-RS is only a Guideline. See, it says 'Guideline' at the top of the page". Those who wanted to inforce the concept as expressed on the Policy pages, edited the Guideline to emphisize its "these are the rules" nature, those who disagreed with this enforcement edited the guideline to stress it's "this is just guidance" nature. And so we ended up with a Guideline page that stated both "guidance" and "rules" ... Neither betwixt or between.

Now let's look at what happened with the creation of ATT ... some people have complained that ATT "elevated" WP:RS to Policy... others have complained that it "demoted" WP:RS to little more than an essay. But in reality it did neither. The conceptual, "these are the rules" side of RS was re-incorporated into the Policy discussion and made clearer, while the "this is guidance" side of WP:RS was shifted into the FAQ page, to be worked on and eventually made back into a guideline (I would recommend renaming it to something like "Determining reliability"). This was not an "elevation" of WP:RS to Policy status... nor was a "demotion" of WP:RS to something less than Guideline status ... it was a needed breaking up of something that had alway been a little bit of both.

That's how I see it, in any case... comments? Blueboar 15:08, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I could not have expressed this more eloquently. Thank you, Blueboar. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:21, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree it is well-said. I'm not sure I 100% agree with it (bears more thinking), but I really think it's a discussion for Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 21:41, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words... and yeah, it is in the wrong place... I posted it here thinking I was at the community discussion page... which is indeed where it should be discussed. Blueboar 21:49, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Excellent, Blueboar, thank you. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Explanation of why the merge was initiated

For anyone who may be confused by the arguments, I've created a draft of a summary of why the merge took place at User:SlimVirgin/Attribution. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

You call this a draft?? :) It's a very lucid summary of all relevant points, an absolute must read for anyone wanting to vote on this policy. If the people who object to the merger, would create an equally succinct summary of their view, I would be most interested in reading that as well. --Merzul 08:50, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
As above, excellent overview which clearly explains the rationale. Khukri 09:14, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
While I can't say that represents all sides of the issue, it does explain some things well. I think certain parts of that should be merged into WP:ATT to make it easier to understand. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 14:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

edit protected

In third paragraph, please consider replacing "the two" by "both", or (better) restating it as in WP:NPOV

Wikipedia:Neutral point of view is one of Wikipedia's two core content policies. The other is Wikipedia:Attribution. Jointly, these policies determine [...]

(Rjgodoy 07:16, 25 March 2007 (UTC))

Hmm... I thought that WP:ATT's proponents have been maintaining that it says the same thing as WP:NPOV and WP:V in the first place... — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 07:20, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I haven't checked WP:V, but since now there are two policies it would be nice that both of them display the same text. (Rjgodoy 08:05, 25 March 2007 (UTC))
{{editprotected}} Given the circumstances I think it is better to leave the page alone until consensus is determined. CMummert · talk 20:28, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Suggested tag

I propose that something along the lines of the following be added to the page in place of the {{protected}} template:

Info header.png This page was created to serve as a combination of Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. It was believed that consensus for such a merger was reached, but that has been called into question. For the time being, this remains the canonical policy page, but the above pages retain their applicability. Pending long-term resolution of this dispute (presently under discussion), the page has been protected from editing.

Feel free to tweak the wording, of course. —David Levy 08:30, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I'd change "resolution of this issue" to "resolution of this dispute", because "dispute" is the basis for the protection under WP:PROT. With that, this works for me. It still notifies that the page is protected, it clearly and neutrally describes the situation, and it should prevent any further calls for {{Disputedtag}}. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 08:42, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I've performed the change from "issue" to "dispute."  :-) —David Levy 08:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Info header.png This page was created to serve as a combination of Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. For the time being, this remains the canonical policy page, but the above pages retain their applicability. Pending long-term resolution of this dispute (presently under discussion), the page has been protected from editing.
This I would support. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:09, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Removing that sentence renders the reference to "this dispute" unclear. —David Levy 17:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I oppose removing the words "Protection is not an endorsement of the current version." which are present in the current tag. --Coppertwig 16:35, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Those are important words. HighInBC(Need help? Ask me) 16:39, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Okay, how about the following:
Info header.png This page was created to serve as a combination of Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. It was believed that consensus for such a merger was reached, but that has been called into question. For the time being, this remains the canonical policy page, but the above pages retain their applicability. Pending long-term resolution of this dispute (presently under discussion), the page has been protected from editing. This is not an endorsement of the current version.
David Levy 17:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that gets all of the desired messages across, without any confusion at all. Support. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:34, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
ArmedBlowfish suggested some different custom ones above; maybe they have language someone would like to integrate or something. Just an FYI. I like the "canonical" (joke, see thread below) image in his, because people recognize it and know what it means, but I would hardly fight about it at all. It's the text and the link to the community discussion that really matters. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:09, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Dispute notice on talk page

I need other user's opinions as to whether I have a right to place a dispute notice at the top of this talk page.

Background: Some time ago, rather than placing a dispute tag on the policy page itself, as a somewhat less obtrusive way to indicate the presence of a dispute I placed this notice at the top of the talk page, under some other notices at the top of the talk page. I consider that this dispute is still ongoing. A user whom I consider to be a party to the dispute, SlimVirgin, removed the notice about 28 hours later and stated that "There is no dispute", also asking me not to put the dispute notice back up and calling the dispute notice "disruptive editing". The reason I consider the user a party to the dispute is that the user has reverted both my edits to WP:ATT, (edits which I intended as logically partial reverts to the proposed new wording "attributable ... not whether it is true" because they eliminate or partially eliminate a new meaning that the new words introduce about the treatment of false but attributable information), and I still object to the new wording which has not been changed. I hereby repeat my invitation to user SlimVirgin to participate in debate with me on this issue at Wikipedia talk:Attribution#Role of truth with the goal of achieving mutual understanding, and of achieving persuasion one way or the other, or compromise, or a better solution, and of achieving consensus. Numerous other users have expressed opinions in this issue, including some quite similar to mine.

My position about having a dispute notice: I believe that the usual procedures for dispute tags should apply to this notice. I believe the usual procedure is that if a user puts up a dispute tag, other users are supposed to leave it there until the dispute is resolved, and if someone removes it before the dispute is resolved there is nothing wrong with the action of putting the dispute tag up again. I believe that the usual procedure when some parties claim that there is no dispute is to leave the dispute tag in place on the grounds that there is, at least, a dispute about whether there is a dispute or not.

Seeking input: Please comment on the status of the dispute notice, whether the dispute notice should be there or not, whether I have a right to have it there even if there is no consensus for having it there, whether it would be wrong of "disruptive" of me to put the notice back up again, and whether it would be wrong for someone to remove it again before there is agreement that the dispute is resolved. --Coppertwig 17:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

In theory, I can't see any rationale for reverting the good-faith talk page edits of others, generally, unless there is something demonstrably wrong about them, like putting {{WPMILHIST}} on Talk:Bugs Bunny), or archiving talk page discussions that are still in progress, or making personal attacks (scratch that; that is not a good faith edit anyway), or the post was obviously made to the wrong page because the editor forgot which edit window they were in, and so on. But doing so with the rationale that "There is no dispute" would obviously be nonsensical POV-pushing, since the dispute is self-evident right there for everone to read. We don't normally flag disputes in this way (usually we use non-talk page dispute templates), but we don't normally preface talk pages with POV statements either, and as the project page is locked, it seems like a rational way to note that there is a dispute. In this particular case, I think your notice is POV itself, because you signed it and directed readers to a specific topic you want them to see. A simpler statement to the effect of "However, not all editors agree that the intention of policy innovations has been achieved." on the end of the existing notice would do the trick and is much more neutral. WPians are smart enough to read around and make up their own minds without been led directly. That's my take. PS: No, it wouldn't be "disruptive" to post this again, and reverting it could be if the reversion rationale were nonsense again. PPS: Given how hot tempers have been around here, I wouldn't bother, since the wording change to "claimed" already makes the point that there are disputes about whether the intention has been achieved. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 00:55, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
It's OK. The current version of the notices on this policy page and at the top of this talk page are OK with me. Thanks for posting your opinion -- I appreciate it. --Coppertwig 01:35, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Concerning "Unpublished synthesis of published material"

Please, speak plain English. I'm fairly sure I have a commonsense understanding of the concept in question, but I find that reading this section leaves me shaking my head in bewilderment. Pardon me for coming late to the party; no doubt the present language reflects deep thought and debate, which I have not tried to research. Yet the end result is disappointing. Here is the text:


Editors often make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article in order to advance position C. However, that would be an example of an unpublished synthesis of published material serving to advance a position, and it constitutes original research.[1] "A and B, therefore C" is acceptable only if a reliable source has published this argument in relation to the topic of the article.
Here is an example from a Wikipedia article, with the names changed. The article was about Jones:

Smith says that Jones committed plagiarism by copying references from another book. Jones denies this, and says it's acceptable scholarly practice to use other people's books to find new references.

Now comes the unpublished synthesis of published material:

If Jones's claim that he always consulted the original sources is false, this would be contrary to the practice recommended in the Chicago Manual of Style, which requires citation of the source actually consulted. The Chicago Manual of Style does not call violating this rule "plagiarism." Instead, plagiarism is defined as using a source's information, ideas, words, or structure without citing them.

The whole point of this paragraph is the conclusion that, given the Chicago Manual of Style's definition of plagiarism, Jones did not commit it. This is the editor's opinion; it is original research. If the paragraph attributed the opinion to a reliable source that specifically commented on the Smith and Jones dispute and made the same point about the Chicago Manual of Style and plagiarism, it would comply with this policy. In other words, that precise analysis must have been published by a reliable source in relation to the topic before it can be published in Wikipedia.
    • ^ Jimmy Wales has discussed the problem of unpublished syntheses of existing material, stating: "Some who completely understand why Wikipedia ought not create novel theories of physics by citing the results of experiments and so on and synthesizing them into something new, may fail to see how the same thing applies to history." (Wales, Jimmy. "Original research", December 6, 2004)

    I think all is well up until "Now comes the unpublished synthesis", but the following blockquote takes a strange sharp turn, hence tends to read like gobbledygook; and I fail to see how it supports the claim about "The whole point of this paragraph." Perhaps it would suffice to rewrite this second blockquote something like this:

    • The Chicago Manual of Style supports Jones's position. The practice recommended there requires citation of the source actually consulted, but the Manual does not call violating this rule "plagiarism." Instead, plagiarism is defined as using a source's information, ideas, words, or structure without citing them. Jones's claim that he always consulted the original sources, even if false, does not rise to the level of plagiarism.

    Or perhaps a better example can be devised. As it stands, this example is not clear writing, nor is the exegesis. One assumes the policy is confusing enough to need a clarifying example. The writing in this section does not accomplish that, but instead piles on additional confusion. IMHO.

    Again, apologies to those who have labored to get this far; the document as a whole is a welcome improvement. --KSmrqT 17:27, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

    Unfortunately, this is an actual WP example, including the double negative; so there nay be resistance to chnaging it. The first sentence of your rewrite is actual OR (since the CMS doesn't mention Jones). The synthesis consists of implying that support without stating it. Perhaps.
    • The Chicago Manual of Style requires citation of the source actually consulted, although the Manual does not call violating this rule "plagiarism." If Jones did not consult the original sources, he violated this recommendation. Instead, plagiarism is defined as using a source's information, ideas, words, or structure without citing them.
    Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:52, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    I'm assuming readers will realize that the Chicago Manual of Style does not explicitly mention Jones. In fact, isn't that the point of the example? Must support be implied, rather than stated, to have a synthesis? I assume that synthesizing conclusions without adequate foundation is to be avoided either way. The "subtext" of my revision of the second passage is, "(In my opinion) [t]he Chicago Manual of style supports …" and "… does not rise to the level of plagiarism (in my opinion)." It is the hidden interjection of opinion, masquerading as a claim supported by the Manual, that constitutes the problem.
    Whether the example is taken from life is irrelevant; we need the example to be clear. As noted elsewhere, many articles draw together facts from diverse sources, which is not a problem per se. In fact, I assume that if this example said "Chen asserts that the Chicago Manual of Style supports Jones", where Chen is a reliable source, then all is well. Or if an editor compiles a (fair) list of relevant facts and leaves the reader to draw conclusions, that is also fine.
    But the example, as given, is hopeless. Without further context, my complaint would be that the writing is poor, not that it improperly synthesizes a conclusion. I see an assertion in the commentary that the "whole point … is the conclusion …", but frankly (again, lacking context), I think that is far from clear. What about the following?
    1. All men are mortal (Scholar 2001).
    2. Socrates is a man (Expert 2005).
    3. Socrates is mortal.[citation needed]
    Is the {{fact}} tag justified? Does it depend on the details of the example? How is an editor to know? What if the final assertion were revised? "It may seem plausible to conclude that Socrates is mortal, but the judge has not yet issued a decision."
    If a rule is so confusing that reasonable people cannot decide when it applies, it's a bad rule. If an example is supposed to clarify the rule and leaves us more confused than ever, it's a bad example. This is a bad example. Is there a good one? --KSmrqT 20:33, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    You're probably right that the example needs to be clarified; but it does need to be implicit. This paragraph is designed to counter this psricular sort of bad editing; "The Chicago Manual of Style says Jones is a plagiarist" is covered by the rest of the policy, since it is false and unsourceable. Therefore any example which contains it is not an instance of novel synthesis. Perhaps two examples; one containing the forbidden conclusion, one without it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:53, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    The syllogism, however, is not OR - and a good thing too. See WP:ATT#What is not original research? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
    Ah, but I know from painful experience that editors may disagree on examples that seem as obvious as the above syllogism.
    Back to the wording; how about the following:

    Jones acknowledges copying references without consulting the original sources. This is contrary to the practice recommended in the Chicago Manual of Style, which requires citation of the source actually consulted. However, the Manual does not call violating this rule "plagiarism"; instead, it defines plagiarism as using a source's information, ideas, words, or structure without citing them. Therefore, Jones is correct in denying plagiarism.

    In this version we see an explicit editorial conclusion ("Jones is correct"), but no claim that the Manual itself asserts that conclusion. Does this satisfy the "must be implicit" requirement for the example? I think so. However, I also see this as perilously close to the syllogism, so close that reasonable editors will disagree.
    Why is this not a syllogism? Well, one could argue that Jones did use information (the references) without citing the source; in which case Jones did commit plagiarism as defined by the Manual. Which view is correct? We don't know! The editor decided, which is a step too far. (Or so we are told.)
    Often only an expert will notice such an issue, and may then have difficulty explaining why the conclusion is not justified. Yet it is also common for an expert to draw the conclusion, and then have difficulty responding to a challenge by a non-expert who is not convinced the conclusion is routine and uncontroversial. We need to craft an example that highlights the issue dramatically, not one that is right on the edge. --KSmrqT 20:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


    See, in an example like the one above, I would be wondering just why we were discussing Socrates's mortality, just like I wonder why an article on WoW druids talks about non-WoW druids without any sources to make a connection between them. Nifboy 04:19, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    KSmrg is not the first one to be bewildered by this example. It makes no sense, because the "synthesis" is a simple logical conclusion, and simple logical conclusions don't count as synthesis. It's a holdover from the old policies, I've complained about it again and again, and it seems impossible to get rid of because of people who blindly insist on keeping everything in the old policy whether or not it makes sense.

    Yes, it's a real example. It takes a bad decision made in a real example and uses it as precedent for all of Wikipedia.

    (To top it off, I've been continually misunderstood about this. People have insisted that I think the statement should be allowed in a Wikipedia article. I don't--I just think that the explanation why not is wrong. It's an unreliable source, since the Chicago Manual of Style is not an authority on this particular case, not original research.) Ken Arromdee 17:47, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    I would like to echo the "please, speak plain english" plea of the original poster. The example of synthesis is confusing and difficult to follow, and it does not make logical sense even if you follow it closely. The whole point of an example is to explain the policy, and the example is failing to do so clearly.

    I've proposed an alternative example at Wikipedia talk:Attribution/FAQ#Example(s) of unpublished synthesis. I propose that the example is removed from this page (and WP:NOR) and replaced by the suggested example (or another alternative) at the FAQ.

    Does anyone have any comments, objections, or alternative suggestions?

    (I would suggest waiting for the ATT/NOR/Verifiability issue to settle down before making the change).

    Enchanter 18:39, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

    Canonical vs. definitive (or another word)

    {{editprotected}}

    On the poll talk page, some of us have objected to the use of canonical, including myself. I am worried that some might not understand it, and I think "definitive" could accomplish the same purpose. See Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll#canonical_vs_definitive.

    Thanks,
    Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 00:18, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    That change would work for me; it is true some do not know of or agree with the tongue-in-cheek secular use of "canonical". I don't feel strongly about it either way. As it is not an edit to the content of policy, it seems harmless. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    We're stuck with it because it's Jimbo's word. Anyway, perhaps we should have faith in the vocabulary of Wikipedia users, particularly those interested in policy. qp10qp 01:12, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    We're not actually; please see the discussion linked to. Jimbo used it as an adjective not as new designation (i.e. not an addition to Policy, Guideline, Historical, Rejected, Essay). Policy is policy, non-policy is not policy, period. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 01:23, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    Or to make the point clearer, if we invent a bogus new designation, "Canonical Policy" this logically means that all other Policies are "Apocryphal Policy" or otherwise denigrated. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    What about Wikipedians whose native language is not English? Not knowing all the vocabulary does not imply a lack of intelligence. — Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 01:14, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    As a compromise, we could wikilink the word. --tjstrf talk 01:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Okay, but why don't we wikilink it to the wiktionary definitions, rather than the Wikipedia article? I find the wiktionary definitions more concise and to-the-point. Thanks, Armed Blowfish (talk|mail) 01:38, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    Either works for me. --tjstrf talk 01:41, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    Canonical is a common enough word with a well understood lay meaning. It lacks some of the nuances of "definitive" and may in some circumstances be a useful alternative. In fact using "definitive" to describe written policies on Wikipedia is probably a very, very bad idea. For instance, someone might get the idea that our policy is composed of fixed and immutable words. --Tony Sidaway 01:45, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    Why would anyone get that impression in a wiki with clear policies about such things and an "edit this page" tab on the page, and a discussion page talking about edits? I'm not convinced "definitive" is the right word, but this didn't do anything at all to sway my opinion. :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:42, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    One little point

    My congratulations to those who put this proposed guideline together. It is extraordinarily well done.

    I do have one small point. Let's say Mark Cuban, in his [blog], says, "Bill Gates is a buffoon for reasons XYZ." If I am reading the the section on "self-published sources" correctly, this policy would prevent us from using that material (in an article where it would be appropriate to mention opinions of Bill Gates). But if the Podunk Weekly Tribune reports that Cuban says Bill Gates is a buffoon, we can use it.

    That seems to be a little backwards, but perhaps that's the only feasible way the policy can be framed. No policy will be perfect. -- Mwalcoff 03:17, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    I don't think I agree with that assessment. Nothing could be more authoritative about what Mark Cuban says that Mark Cuban, so the blog in this very narrow instance would actually be a more reliable source for that fact than the random village newspaper (especially since that newspaper's source would almost certainly be the blog in the first place!) Neither are reliable sources for the alleged fact that Bill Gates is, said, or did anything. The little newspaper would be a good source for such an alleged fact if it were quoting a US District Attorney on what filing Microsoft made a hour ago in one of its court cases (though it is likely that less podunk sources could be found for the same quote unless they somehow got a scoop.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 10:53, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    I have spent far too much time now arguing on policy, so this will be the last thing I say, and then I will go back to editing the encyclopedia. I think the above little point is serious, and this has always bothered me. Mark Cuban's blog is probably the most reliable source in the world for what he thinks, but we don't care, because the guiding policies are WP:BLP and WP:Undue weight. I think our policy would be much cleaner, if all these judgements about what sources to use are moved to NPOV. This is how my ideal Wikipedia policy would look like:

    1. We have one policy deciding what sources are used and how much weight is given to each source.
      • NPOV for normal articles.
      • BLP when it is applicable. (Yes, I would like BLP to overrule NPOV, not just say that NPOV should be applied more strictly, I believe a biography should have a slight bias towards a charitable presentation).
    2. ATT decides how we are allowed to use sources to avoid doing original research.

    There is much head-ache when people include verifiable information on a biography citing WP:V or WP:ATT to back up their activities. And some people, including Jimbo, think the problem is due to original research using only primary sources; but the problem is not with using primary sources! Primary source are excellent when giving a purely descriptive plot summary of a book. The reason we don't like primary sources is when they are being used to argue a case (SYNT) or when they are used descriptively, but where they don't belong, as in a biography. News reports in the above context is one indication that the comment deserves to be given more weight, but it has nothing to do with verifiability. Before I even came to these conclusions, Armedblowfish had suggested that the Reliable sources guideline, if appropriately rewritten, might help clarify issues of due weight, see Wikipedia:Reliable sources and undue weight for more information on that. Thank you for listening! --Merzul 17:52, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources#Change "Reliable Sources" to "Acceptable Sources"

    Please see above discussion for its relevance to WP:ATT. Tyrenius 03:28, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Please at least summarize, or no one is going to bother. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 10:58, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    "Reliable" is not a good generic term to describe the sources which wiki points to as the ones to use. A so-called reliable source which is mandatory to use may well be less reliable than a source which it is not permitted to use. This certainly doesn't help new editors to make sense of things. WP:NPOV implies necessary sources may be unreliable, as its concept is "a means of dealing with conflicting views." If two sources have conflicting views one (or both) is by definition not reliable — although both their views must still be represented — so to carry on using the term for them is inaccurate and confusing. Terms proposed to replace "reliable" include "acceptable", "allowable", "permissible" and "appropriate". This proposal is not to change the guideline but to use a term that defines it better. Discussion is at Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources#Change "Reliable Sources" to "Acceptable Sources" to keep it in one place. Tyrenius 21:24, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Lets abolish 99% of the rules

    Resolved: Wrong venue.

    Wikipedia, when it began had only one rule: "ignore all the rules". Since then a lot of well- meaning (and not so well meaning) people have made wikipedia a bureaucratic Frankenstien, with a million different rules.

    Often those veteran editors who know wikipolicy the best are able to push their pet version of wikipedia than those who don't know all of the bureaucratic abreviations WP:OR, WP:COI, WP:RS etc.

    The more veteran an editor, the more benefit this editor gets in pushing their view of wikipedia by knowing all of the bureaucratic rules. So these policy wonks who would be the most influencial in abolishing 99% of the rules, won't because all of the myraid of rules benefit them, because the rules handicap new users. In otherwords, veteran editors won't give up their power.

    A few admins have personally complained to me that many admins and veteran users don't even write articles anymore, instead they frequent ICQ and socialize with like minded editors. These editors are here to push their vision of wikipedia, using wikipolicy.

    SUGGESTION 1

    I suggest we abolish 99% of all these rules, including the ones debated here. I know 99% of the editors here (including the same policy wonks who make and protect policy) will come up with all kinds of slippery slope arguments why we should keep the million rules, so the proposal to abolish 99% of the rules is dead in the water.

    SUGGESTION 2

    Since abolishing all the rules is a pipe dream, why not create rules that help build wikipedia, not delete articles on wikipedia? WP:RS, WP:OR are often used by editors as an excuse to remove content. Aren't we all here to create content? We have WP:NOT but were is [[WP:IS]]? 99% of the rules we created are negative: you can't do this, you can't do that. If I could change one thing on wikipedia it would be to remove the word "encyclopedia" from the title. Wikipedia is much, much more than a encyclopedia. Too many editors get stuck on the idea that since this is supposed to be an "encyclopedia" there needs to be a myrid of rules making wikipedia an encyclopedia. This is short sighted.

    The longer wikipedia is around the more rules veteran wikipedians impose upon themselves. These rules make it harder for new wikiusers to join wikipedia, and it leaves a negative view of how wikipedia is run.

    For example, the WP:RfC page is a nightmare of rules which only makes the admins job of screening out RfC's easier, but is a nightmare of requirments. Do we even need WP:RfC page? Do we need an arbcom? A body of supreme court wikipedia judges?

    Personally, I hesitate to write any articles anymore because I am afraid some wikipedian will come along, and citing policy, delete everything I have wrote.

    Wikipedia was a great idea, it is too bad that we all ruined it. Odessaukrain 10:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    This is emphatically not the right place for that proposal. Take it up at the village pump please. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 10:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Jimmy Wales in "See Also" and "Sources and Notes"

    All of the quoting of and linking to statements by Jimmy Wales in the See Also and Sources and Notes sections is, I think, a bad idea. As a relative newbie editor myself, I don't much care what Jimmy Wales wanted Wikipedia to be, I care more about what Wikipedia is becoming because of individual contributions. I'd like to figure out what all the policy means, and if I think it makes sense, not when Jimmy said the particular part that is important on this page or this section of this page. I also think that the essentially exclusive citation of what Jimmy says can emphasize to Jimmy that if he wants to change things, he can just say so and, viola, it will all be changed. Wikipedia is a good idea because lots of people can contribute, not because one person can change the direction of the project on a whim. I like this policy. Stop bowing to the founder and I'll like it even more. Enuja 15:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    This one's for you. (Netscott) 16:00, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    I think there are other problems with it as well. I think it would be safe to replace most of these with "Wikipedia Office action has specified that..." The main problem I see is that it encourages noobs (and even experienced editors who don't spend any time in policy debates but almost exclusively work on articles) to quote Jimbo as athoritative, but out of context or when what he is saying is not an Office action, but simply him discussing things as a Wikipedian. Make it about the policy process rather than about the speaker, and much less argumentum ad Jimbonem (which the WP:ATT debate has been overflowing with) will occur. NB: Changing it here alone wouldn't have that effect; it would need to be done elsewhere as well. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    I was left thinking the same thing having reached the bottom of this page. Wikipedia is now so much more than where it came from that it seems rather sycophantic to have this on what is aimed at becoming the central policy. |→ Spaully°τ 22:53, 6 April 2007 (GMT)

    Page protection?

    Hi.

    What was the point of protecting this page? Was there an edit war going on? There are other pages that are "disputed" but are not protected, so what gives? mike4ty4 19:00, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Many WP:ATT proponents (but not all, and probably some WP:ATT opponents, but a minority) feel that WP:ATT (and pages WP:V, WP:NOR, and WP:RS) should be frozen for "stability", meanwhile most WP:ATT opponents (with exceptions, and joined by a few WP:ATT proponents), and most of those who are neutral but have unresolved concerns with WP:ATT's wording, think this is a violation of WP:PROT (a policy not a guideline) among other problems. It's been discussed several places above, at WP:RFPP, and at WP:AN and has come to an uneasy and perhaps temporary compromise in which WP:RS has been unprotected (and, notably, the "chaos" that WP:ATT proponents predicted would result has not materialized at all), and the rest have remained protected, at least for now. That's the situation as I see it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 20:03, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    The only things that can be "frozen" are Foundation mandates. Everything else is subject to consensus of the community, and consensus can change. — Omegatron 21:58, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    People use "freeze" as synonymous with "full-protect" all the time. I agree that this is ambiguous; I certainly wasn't intending to imply mandate-style freeze, I just got tired of typing "protected".  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 22:43, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    So then it's to preempt the possibility of edit warring, then? mike4ty4 22:28, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
    The reasons were never really clear. A few people wanted to have a static version of the page for the poll, but that could have been accomplished just by making a copy and anyway is not a proper use of protection. —Centrxtalk • 05:45, 6 April 2007 (UTC)
    I absolutely agree with Centrx on this one. No good has ever come that I'm aware of (examples, anyone?) from locking down contentious policy/guideline pages for any longer than is utterly necessary to stop ongoing revertwarring and convert it into discussion. There's been discussion and then some, on an almost unprecedented scale, for two weeks now. I get flamed (usually out-of-band, i.e. e-mail) for being "disruptive" (cf. WP:DE and WP:VANDAL for the actual WP-defintion of that term) for pointing out things like this and not crawling into a corner when I'm ordered to shut up by people who would rather not hear such objections and points; but c'mon folks, this is a Wiki. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 09:11, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

    Reliable source or reliable facts?

    Does a reliable source refer to verifiability of the source, or to the reliability of the fact therein, or both?

    For example, if we cite a local newspaper, writing that "The Gotham City News reported that Dr Spock's says his theory predicts that the Moon will turn blue next Thursday"...

    • Is the local newspaper a reliable source because it can be readily checked
    • The statement may be accurately described (because we could corroborate it elsewhere)
    • But the theory described may be bunkum

    --84.9.191.165 20:25, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    Originally, Wikipedia was concerned with being a reliable source of information. It was based on the idea that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", and errors would, in general, be corrected faster than they were entered, leading to the encyclopedia converging towards truth. These original principles are still somewhat visible on Wikipedia:Replies to common objections.
    The emphasis has since been shifted towards references, though, with newer policies that state things like "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth" and say to remove unsourced statements on sight even if you know them to be true.
    So yes, in the current policy paradigm, it is better to put in stuff about the moon turning blue than to put in things that are true. — Omegatron 21:56, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    So does a reliable source refer to verifiability of the source, or to the reliability of the fact therein, or both?
    The reason I ask is that some obscure scientific theories are often described in obscure journals. The publications are not well-known, but copies can be found in libraries. So the obscure theories are verifiable... the sources are reliable. But the theories being described could be bunkum, but are not described inappropriately.
    So if we described Dr Spock's theory on the blue Moon, is the source wholly reliable if it's checkable? --84.9.191.165 22:22, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    For scientific theories we generally require reputable peer-reviewed publications. Additionally, if they are very obscure, with minimal or no citing by other independent publications, we may consider them fringe theories, in which case they would not be included at all, per undue weight. Also, if any exceptional claims are made, we require exceptional (i.e. even higher quality and quantity) sourcing. Crum375 22:30, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    Why is citing required? Popular conspiracy theories do require reviews in order to describe them, unless we're going to include a section of critique? Myths and legends don't require critiques to describe them, so what's so special about fringe theories, as long as we don't pretend they accepted theory? --84.9.191.165 00:00, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    As far as I know, the validity of a fringe theory is of no consideration to Wikipedia, after all, we do not assess the validity of the flat Earth theory, in order to include it (though we may have a critique section do just that)?
    And doesn't notability requires any independent coverage, not just citations? After all, a fringe theory could be notable with a bunch of non-scientists, who are no less important than a bunch of scientists; and as long as we attribute, we satisfy notability?
    Isn't it the assessment of a fringe theory that would require peer reviewed citations in order to write a critique? And this is very different from describing a fringe theory. --84.9.191.165 09:10, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    The citing of a scientific paper by another independent publication adds more validity and/or notability to it (it may be cited as a flawed theory also). The decision to include or exclude a fringe theory in Wikipedia hinges on its notability (e.g. citing by others) as well as the number and quality of publications in which it appears, plus its acceptability in the mainstream. If it is really obscure and on the fringe, we don't include it, until it becomes either better known or validated by others, preferably both. Crum375 00:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    How much is required is of course debatable, and often debated--the policy statement leaves it open, except that it cannot be an altogether new hypothesis of one's own. Even a myth needs a source .DGG 00:36, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    If a source is reliable, then it should not matter whether we are describing a myth or a fringe scientific theory. In which case "Reliable source" refers to the verifiability of the information, not to the validity of the myth or theory?
    So it seems that a reliable source refers to verifiability of the source, rather than the reliability of the fact therein? --84.9.191.165 09:10, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    Page for creating collaborative expression of arguments against

    The page User:Coppertwig/Stability of policy has been created for the purpose of developing a concise summary of the arguments against merging or against some aspects of how the merge is carried out. Users who are "against" in one sense or another are invited to help edit the page, according to the rules on its talk page. --Coppertwig 22:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

    How that is different from Wikipedia_talk:Attribution/Community_discussion? That is were the community discussion is being held. If you want to write your comments in a sandbox, that is fine. But Wikipedia:Canvassing is not appropriate. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:02, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    And BTW, to say that the page "has been created", is err... strange? Why not to say: "I have created a page"? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:03, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
    A better question might be why some parties seem so amazingly perturbed by the idea that that SlimVirgin's Poll-mentioned essay might have one or more contra-counterparts (see Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll at various points). "Things that make ya go 'hmm...'" — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    PS: More grammar flames? Please. Wikipedia is not Usenet. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    On reviewing various policies and guidelines I have the impression that essays are written by a single user or by all users, not by limited groups of users. For this and other reasons I've decided the user page will be edited by myself only; but input is welcome from all users on the talk page of the user page. When it's finished I plan to move it to policy space, as was done with SlimVirgin's essay. I've put the same message at [[Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Poll# and Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion#Summary of Conclusions....--Coppertwig 22:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    That's fine, but you should be aware that when you move it to the WP namespace, it becomes subject to community consensus and anyone is be free to edit it. This was relatively well established by the "Wikipedia is failing" event a few weeks back. CMummert · talk 22:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    More discussion about truth

    Please take a look at a new section "Role of the truth 3", which I placed high above, since I understood that thee discussion of truth is to be confined to one section. Mukadderat 07:41, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    Shortcut

    {{editprotected}} Please, remove the shortcut WP:A from the policy page. This has always been a redirect to Wikipedia:Announcements, a lot of revisions include this link (so this would break backward compatibility) and I don't see any consensus to change this. --Eleassar my talk 09:54, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    I have restored this link. The WP:A is linked to as WP:ATT from many places, and changing it back to ANN will cause a major disruption. This change was discussed at the time on the ANN talk page. Please do not change it without consensus. Thank you. Crum375 11:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Was there ever a consensus to change WP:A to equate to WP:ATT in the first place? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 11:34, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    There was a request made by SlimVirgin on the ANN Talk page. A maintainer there replied that the 'A' shortcut was rarely used nowadays, and that WP:ATT was welcome to have it. This was done over some period of time, to give ANN people a chance to object. No one did, and eventually the change was made. To my knowledge, no ANN user had complained about the change, done more than a month ago, until the issue was raised today. Crum375 11:42, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Actual citations please. This page is rife with disputes. Some of them are valid and some are utter nonsense. The only way to sort them out is though wikiforensics. Be Grissom for us for a little while. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:07, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    The exchange can be found here. —David Levy 14:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    According to the above I think there is no consensus. The WP:A shortcut should be linked to Wikipedia:Announcements or at least be a disambiguation page. That way no links will be broken and everybody will know what they're looking for. --Eleassar my talk 13:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    I looked at the list of links when the redirect was changed, and there were very few. Now there are many, so most (if not all) must be references to Wikipedia:Attribution. —David Levy 14:13, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Moreover, consensus is not an issue. The decision was made a month ago. That no one - not one person - raised any objections until now tells you that it was a relatively uncontroversial change. Why try to turn it into a controversy now? Slrubenstein | Talk 14:56, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Because it causes trouble to some editors? Well, if everyone agrees this is ok.. then there should be at least a note under the title redirecting the user. --Eleassar my talk 15:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    I know your concern is well-intentioned but ATT is far more important than A, and users will get used to this very quickly - given that noone commented until now, I'd suggest most users are already used to it. Where exactly do you suggest the note be placed? Does anyone know if we have a standard template for this? Slrubenstein | Talk 16:11, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    I would appreciate if there was a note like it is at Wikipedia:Bot policy for the letter "B". --Eleassar my talk 15:30, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
    I am turning the request down for now because the shortcut itself was reverted. -- ReyBrujo 22:42, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
    I guess it can wait, but the change is simple and will prevent confusion. Code:
    {{redirect|WP:A|Wikipedia:Announcements|Wikipedia:Announcements}}
    SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:01, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

    Interwiki link

    I would like to request the change of the ar interwiki link to:

    [[ar:ويكيبيديا:سياسة الوثوقية]]

    Please note that the Arabic language is written from right to left. Thank you. --Meno25 11:47, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    Can someone who knows Arabic please look into this? — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:03, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    Really important to me and many other people, but off-topic question: Is there a place to request micro-translation (not to mention "is target article valid" check-ups) like this? No disrepect of any kind whatsoever intended toward Meno25; an answer to this would solve issues with many articles on various small points. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:15, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    {{editprotected}} done. I agree that having a microtranslation service would be ideal, but until there is one, I think we have to AGF with these requests. This one has been waiting for a while; I went ahead and made it. CMummert · talk 12:13, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

    No objection on my part; I was just wondering if "Hey, can anyone who knows Japanese check this manga title translation over at (whatever article)?" requests have a place to go. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 23:05, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
    You can search the "Wikipedians by language" categories and post a request on someone's talk page (I did that once for a Japanese article, and got a helpful reply). That is part of why the babelboxes exist. Other than that, um, aren't there translation Wikiprojects? That might reach a more general audience, if there is one for the relevant language. Lyrl Talk C 00:31, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

    original research by negative deduction

    i find that the relevant policies do not say enough about negative derivations from sources, which should be rightly classified as original research. what i mean here is that we are to detail what the source does say, not what the source doesn't say, especially when it's used to forward a POV, and especially when that source is a primary source. for example, if a source says "He pleaded not guilty to murder", yet one cites it postulating: "He did not plead not guilty to manslaughter". another example would be a source which says "Do not kill innocent men", yet you cite it saying "Source X says nothing about not killing innocent children". there are hundreds of things that a source may not mention, and to utilise that is a manipulation of the source. i have come across an editor doing exactly that: [16]. he has been warring, persistently, and against numerous editors, to include this negative derivation which is clearly intended to forward a POV. he is not interested in ceasing this behaviour despite having the policy explained to him, including by an admin. ITAQALLAH 19:52, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

    This issue is adequately addressed in the current policy. An editor cannot attribute to a source what the source doesn't say; this is equivalent to a ban on negative derivation. For example, one cannot attribute the statement "Source X says nothing about not killing innocent children" to source X because source X contains no such statement (I presume). Beit Or 19:59, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    I agree that this is a problem ... but I think it is a NPOV issue more than a NOR issue. The relevant policy for any addition on this would be WP:NPOV. Blueboar 20:01, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    i agree that the ban on negative derivation can essentially be deduced from the policy (i just think it needs to be a little more explicit). the issue here, as opposed to attributing something to a source what it does not say, is actually making the observation that the source says nothing about X. Blueboar, i was thinking it would be more of an ATT-based issue because negative deductions, regardless of their accuracy, are essentially OR. is it possible to have a word or two just making this explicit so editors don't have to waste time responding to justifications like this? ITAQALLAH 20:22, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    I do not think negative derivation should be banned, although we should be extremely careful with it. Suppose, for example, some editor insists on adding that Daniel Webster introduced a bill on telegraphy to the moon in 1835, and cites some crank in support of it. It is extremely unlikely that any reputable source will have bothered to deny the claim; but we can say that no biographer (including X who lists all of Webster's legislative actions) mentions it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:34, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
    This suggestion of ban for negative derivation is a manifestation of danger of decreasing the priority of "goal-oriented policies" in favor of "procedure-oriented" I was speaking in the section #Role of the truth 3 : "Sweeping Responsibility under the Rug" or "Axiomatic Introduction into Wikitruth". If we think of WP:V as primary rule, then this is a non-issue: absence of a separate statement is just as equally immediately verifiable as its presence, with the only difference that the verification will take twice as long time on average: you have to read the whole source for negative derivation. Mukadderat 01:25, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
    After second careful reading I see that this section in fact discusses 4 different things. In particular, the referred "editor doing exactly that: [17]" violates a yet another rule of common sense: of course "Koran" doesn't write that master is not forbidden to shave female's slave genitals and not forbidden to feed her with only sahlep and dondurma and ... The issue is relevance: wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of trivia. At the same time the quoted statement would make sense in the context of a general discussion of consent to sex in Islam: since Qur'an is #1 one authority for Islam, the fact that a certain issue is not covered deserves mention. On the other hand, what Qur'an says and what says not cannot be judged by a random wikipedian: it says more than a layman may read. Mukadderat 01:41, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
    Regrettably there doesn't seem to be a policy against derivations from absence of something in source - in fact negative derivation seems to be used in one of Wikipedia's own policy statements. At least that's the only way I can interpret the so-called example of new synthesis at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:SYN - you have to assume that a negative deribvation is made by the authr of the text complained about (and I do mean assume - that author suggests no such deduction) to call the thing a synthesis (the synthesized conclusion isn't stated by the author either, so it would be a bad example even without requiring one to assume a negative derivation). 81.138.97.98 20:07, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

    Jimbo Wales's requested poll nearly done - please see

    Jimbo Wales requested a poll to gauge community thoughts on the Wikipedia:Attribution merger. A poll for this is being crafted, and is somewhat close to done. Concensus for the past 24 hours (with the occasional dissenting voice of course) that the thing is close to done. Only the main question is still heavily debated. A pre-poll straw poll is here:

    Wikipedia_talk:Attribution/Poll#Q1_Straw_poll_duration

    To sort that out. Accepted group concensus seems to be to pre-poll to 4/1/07 22:00 and then launch a site-wide poll (again, as implied/requested by Jimbo) at 4/2/07 00:00. Please help hash out the wording for that last quesion. - Denny 13:31, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

    I deny any such consensus; and two hours between a major change of text and going live is unrealistic. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:29, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

    unpublished synthesis or something quite different

    The example in the section on unpublished syntheseis is somewhat flawed. First it misses the point that the offending paragraph is self-contradictory, so the statements in it can hardly have come from a reliable source. Then it claims that the whole point of the offending paragraph is a conclusion that the offending paragraph does not in fact draw.

    If comeone wants to claim that the thing isn't self-contradictory they have to explain how one can use a source without using any of its information, ideas, words, or structure! Or perhaps explain to me why someone should be allowed to cite this comment as a source supporting the idea that pigs can fly just because it doesn't say explicitly that they can't. MichealT 20:50, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

    The order of the two sections

    I suggest that the two main subsections of WP:ATT ("Reliable Sources" and "No Original Research") be reversed so that "Reliable Sources" comes first. The reason is that "Reliable sources is positive instruction (telling people what to do) and "No Original Research" is negative instruction (telling people what not to do). I believe the human mind handles instructions a lot better when the positive instructions are given first. Then the person can form images in their mind when reading the positive instructions, and modify those images when reading the negative instructions. Putting the negative instructions first can lead to blank images in the mind and a feeling of frustration with the question "Well, what am I supposed to do then?" until the person gets to the positive-instruction part of the page. From then on you have a user who was experiencing frustration while reading one of the key policies for the first time. Also, I expect that the positive instructions will need to be referred to more often, since people are more likely to need details about how to do what they are actually doing, than details about what they're avoiding doing -- I could be wrong on that point, but in any case it helps to have the more-often-used part first. --Coppertwig 00:49, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

    Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll

    Resolved: Result was "speedy keep".

    Per comments on the Talk page here, and in other locales, it appears groups of editors are specifically against Jimbo's specifically requested public poll to gauge thoughts/support on the idea of the ATT merger. As it has been stated that the Poll is "dead" per users such as User:WAS 4.250, I am nominating this. If there is wide spread support to run this poll, this page should be kept. The MfD is here:

    Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll

    Thank you. - Denny 16:10, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

    The result of the MfD was a Speedy Keep - Let's get back to work on the Poll folks... New voices are needed to break the current deadlock over language. Please help out. Blueboar 17:38, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

    Paragraph shortcuts

    I think it would be a good idea to add the paragraph shortcut for the "NOR" section. (as for example in WP:SYNT) --BMF81 17:30, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

    There's no big hurry, while there is a consensus poll going on. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:36, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

    Disturbed by lack of dispute/protect tags and by disrespect

    The page can't be edited, yet there's no page protection notice to indicate what's going on. There is no justifiable reason for such an omission. At the same time, this is obviously a highly disputed policy, but there's no disputed policy tag on the page. It's absurd to remove a disputed policy tag in the middle of such contention. Meanwhile, a poll is being conducted, but the talk page indicates that in several instances editors attempted to stop the poll by removing the text of votes. Some editors have been directly dismissive of comments simply because they dispute the claim that this merger represents NO change in policy. I hesitate to express my opinion, or expend any energy on a process that's sabotaged, and subjected to out of hand dismissive comments, but I try to maintain hope that when my opinion is asked for it might actually be listened to. In any event, it seems I've stumbled into an ugly mess. This is highly discouraging, frustrating, and counter productive if consensus is a goal. And, I believe it's irresponsible not to clearly indicate the disputed status of this policy until some resolution occurs.zadignose 23:05, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

    There is no dispute on the policy itself. There is a dispute on whether or not this policy should be in this merged form or in the unmerged form of WP:V and WP:NOR. A dispute on the sectioning and nomenclature of policy is not a dispute on the substance of policy. WAS 4.250 02:35, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
    I have issues with both of these statements. To Zadignose: The tag at the very top of the page serves as a custom version of both a {{Disputedtag}} and {{Protected}} template (and {{Mergeto}} for that matter), after days and days of fighting and consensus building to get something on this page that served these purposes. Please don't re-open an old wound.
    To WAS 4.250, you appear to be misunderstanding the meaning and import of {{Disputedtag}}; it is not for content disagreements with what a policy document says, but for whether a policy document has consensus to represent policy, as that particular document; So, its use would have been just fine here. The only way we could indicate that the content of the underlying policy materials was itself disputed (which isn't the case; this is hypothetical) would be if all four (five, including ATTFAQ) documents were tagged with a new template saying as much; but a lot of people would disagree that any such template should/could reasonably exist, given that policy is descriptive not prescriptive except when it comes from Jimbo/the legal office (e.g. the copyright policy and WP:BLP). Even tagging all of them with {{Disputedtag}} wouldn't indicate that the underlying policy language was disputed; in fact, such tagging would accurately describe the present situation, as there is a dispute over whether the policy material should be in ATT (and ATTFAQ to the extent that it has absorbed parts of RS), which automatically means there is a counter-dispute about them remaining separate as V, NOR and RS.
    All that said, everyone on all sides appears to be content with the present merge/protect/dispute custom templates, except for Zadignose (who may now better understand that they serve the purposes he/she wants to be served by such templates.) I.e., this is a total non-issue at this point. Given that I was among the first to raise the issue to begin with, I think I'm pretty right about this one.  :-)
    PS: I have nothing contrary at all to say about the respect and intimidation issues Zadignose raises.
    SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:30, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
    All right, I'm not looking to stir up mud. If the bundle of comments in the first template are generally accepted as a substitute for "disputed" and "protected," while describing the contents as canonical and standing alongside a template that declares this a widely accepted official policy that all users should follow... well, I'll have to go along with that until a real resolution comes along. But I remain disturbed by the impression it gives. The presence of this text at the top of the talk page is also disturbing: "The project page associated with this discussion page is an official policy on Wikipedia. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. Before you update the page, make sure that any changes you make really do reflect consensus." When we talk here, must we embrace this assumption? It seems highly deceptive to preface the talk page with the claim that the policy has wide acceptance when that acceptance is now being guaged and is far from certain to result in a consensus to support what is already claimed. Well, well, let it be, let it be.zadignose 04:24, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
    You kinda do have to go along with ATT being presently canonical, since Jimbo said it is (in his official role). No, you don't have to embrace the assumption that this situation will continue; that's what the poll is about, after all. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:36, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

    Other language sources and Verifiability guidelines

    This new page has not included Wikipedia:Verifiability#Sources in languages other than English. Why? Shouldn't it? Tazmaniacs 18:20, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

    WP:V says that English-language sources should be preferred assuming equal quality. Some may feel that this goes without saying, but it seems to me that this should be stated explicitly. Joeldl 23:59, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

    Erm, down at the bottom of the page:
    Language
    English-language sources should be used whenever possible, because this is the English Wikipedia. Sources in other languages are acceptable if no English equivalents have been found. Published translations are preferred to editors' translations; when editors use their own translations, the original-language material should be provided too, preferably in a footnote, so that readers can check the translation for themselves.
    Is this not what you're both looking for? JulesH 08:01, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
    I am saying it should say "no English equivalents of equal quality". A difference in quality should trump the foreign language issue. Joeldl 09:58, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
    And it does. A source that is not of equal quality is not "equivalent". JulesH 10:22, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
    I'm afraid "equivalent" is a bit vague in that regard. It might be understood to entail "of equal quality", but it might also be taken to mean "of broadly similar value". Sometimes "equivalent" does mean something like "virtually identical", but since sources in different languages are rarely virtually identical, one is left on one's own in ascertaining exactly what degree of similarity is meant here. I'm afraid that people will take this to mean that if there is a source in English supporting the assertions in the text, it is to be preferred to a foreign-language source, even though the foreign-language source might be more informative, more appropriate, or of higher quality for some other reason. In any case WP:ATT has been claimed by many not to depart from policy established in WP:V, and that page is more explicit on this point. I agree that "equivalents of equal quality" sounds a bit redundant, so "sources of equal quality" might be better. Joeldl 10:57, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
    Here's the text from WP:V.
    Because this is the English Wikipedia, for the convenience of our readers, English-language sources should be used in preference to foreign-language sources, assuming equal quality, so that readers can easily verify that the source material has been used correctly.
    "Whenever possible" is quite a strengthening of "should be preferred, assuming equal quality". I argue that there has been a subtle change here. Joeldl 11:03, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
    I agree, and I believe I may have argued against the reduced wording at the time, but I can't be sure. In general, we need to get *way* back to what was originally in WP:V and WP:RS. It's these kinds of subtle changes that concern me; in particular, the non-English-language sources concern me, as I've seen the POV-warring which results when POV pushers put idiosyncratic interpretations on their own translations. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:26, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

    The last discussion on this issue was here: Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Archive 11#Foreign language sources and "assuming equal quality". It appears to me that at that time most people who expressed an opinion were in favour of wording restricting the preference for English-language sources to cases in which all other considerations were equal. The discussion above has had the same result so far. Joeldl 22:54, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

    Proving something that is "common sense" without any academic sources

    I am currently in discussion with someone about whether the long form of an acronym is well known or not. I stated that the majority of people refer to that train system (MTR) by its acronym and are unlikely to know the long form. The other poster states that I need evidence to show that it is the case. And yet the website of that corporation, along with its customer site refers to itself as the acronym. Hence by common sense, most people who want to learn about the corporation will know the system by its acronym. The only documents mentioning that train system in its full form are government documents and tourist guides, which, I assume by common sense, most tourists and citizens won't read. So, how am I going to show that I am correct if it's impossible to find any strict academic statistic indicating that it is true? Apart from this, the other poster is challanging the current title of the present material. Who has the burden of evidence, if needed?--Kylohk 18:34, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

    Just change your claim to say that the company refers to the system as simply "the MTR" [18] and this is its common name. This is attributable and conveys essentially the same information. You may also be able to point out a tourist guide that uses the terminology. This should be enough to use the word "usually" or "commonly" instead of "often". There seems to be little difference between this and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which runs the T in Boston, or the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which runs the MARTA in Atlanta. These articles illustrate how the common name can be convenyed. CMummert · talk 18:56, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
    You should also see how the article: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York) deals with acronyms... the Article gives the full name at the start of the article and then uses MTA for most of the rest of the article. (note that the acronym "MTA" is too common to be used by any one article as a title, so the situation is not completely similar.) Blueboar 19:14, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
    Just to point out one more thing, the company that runs the train system is simply known as MTR Corporation, without any long form. Also, if the MTR website is an attributable way of showing that the train system is almost exclusively known as MTR. Also, when I check abbreviations.com [19], MTR is most commonly used to refer to that metro system by a large margin, does that make the acronym a viable title?--Kylohk 19:18, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
    For those who have never heard of the Mass Transit Railway, e.g. tourists and many people not from Hong Kong / Asia, the full name is much more descriptive than the acronym. Hence, it would be a better title. Once establishing that MTR is the acronym for the Mass Transit Railway, you may as well use MTR for the rest of the article. The problem with "common sense" is that it is frequently not universal. If there is nothing else on Wikipedia that goes by that acronym, you could certainly redirect MTR to Mass Transit Railway. Otherwise, MTR would need to be a disambiguation page. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 00:12, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    That's right — there's "common sense" and there's "informed common sense". Askari Mark (Talk) 00:58, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

    AP:ATT and WP:NOR

    I wish to point out something that is not getting much attention here, and it is that WP:NOR has really been a very sloppy policy. It takes care of the worst offenders, but others can slip through its cracks. Unlike the current WP:NOR policy, this one very forcefully makes it clear that verifiability and not truth are the standard for this encyclopedia. The latter is very important since everyone who wants to post their original research here is screaming "this it the truth" (or even "this is Truth")!

    The hole in WP:NOR comes from there are new ideas out these that do get placed in peer reviewed publications so that they can be considered and debated. Most of these get very little attention, and you gat a primary source either without secondary sources or secondary sources that refute the primary source. Such items are not notable, and perhaps more importantly are not verifiable since they lack a comprehensive "paper trail". Being on a stronger footing with respect to keeping ideas of this ilk out is an asset to Wikipedia.

    If you want to know where I am coming from, I am doing original research of my own. I have considered the point at which it would become proper for inclusion in Wikipedia, and the answer that I come up with is when my ideas become debated amongst gravitation specialists. This will not occur as of its initial publication, and any such debate nmay take years to develop even if my ideas are correct. It is that higher bar that WP:ATT seems to aim for, and I applaud it for doing so. --EMS | Talk 20:20, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

    Misleading statements

    Hi.

    I noticed these statements on ATT and V:

    ATT: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true." V: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth."

    These are totally wrong and misleading, as they say "The threshold for inclusion". The bar is in fact much higher than this -- WP:NOT, WP:NOTE, WP:BIO, etc. all provide additional criteria that must be satisfied for inclusion. These statements contain the misleading idea that anything attributable/verifiable is game for WP -- your street number, telephone number, anything from the local porn mag, etc. even though such things are most certainly not suitable. Although a seasoned WP user may be able to see that the bar is higher, what about new, inexperienced users? Let's say that somebody just comes in, reads WP:ATT/WP:V, sees this, but not noticing the other policies, decides to put in an article about their street or something, and then they see it AFDed and disappear, with comments in the discussion like "non-notable", or "directory entry", etc. which they wouldn't have known were real criteria since they though that the threshold was only attribution/verifiability. I would suggest these sentences be reworded by changing the initial part "The threshold for inclusion..." to "One of the most important criteria for inclusion...". This would emphasize the importance of this criterion but not go so far as to make it seem as though it is the sole criterion (which is flat wrong). mike4ty4 23:30, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

    I would say the issue is far less binary than that. WP:NPOV talks of both inclusion and reputability of sources as matters of degree. WP:NPOV says to "divide space describing the opposing viewpoints according to reputability of the sources". (See WP:NPOV#A_vital_component:_good_research.) Also see WP:NPOV#Undue_weight, which discusses degrees of inclusion. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 00:02, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    The entire statement seems to be the source of much contention anyway. I'd suggest a complete rephrase, perhaps to something more like "That material is true is not grounds to include it in Wikipedia: it must instead be attributable to a reliable published source". JulesH 10:46, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    This would seem like a better phrasing. mike4ty4 23:05, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    Regarding the binary nature of the statement: in the end, inclusion is a binary concept. We either include material, or we don't. Nowhere does the statement suggest that there is an absolute standard of reliability that applies in all circumstances. JulesH 10:49, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    The question is not about reliability, it's about the fact that the true bar for inclusion is much higher than this statement would seem to suggest. mike4ty4 23:05, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    If inclusion was binary, that would make dispute resolution a rather hopeless process. See what I wrote below using Earth and Flat Earth theory as examples. — Armed Blowfish (mail) 02:03, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    In any case, though, this only serves to show that there are more criteria for inclusion than simply verifiability/attribution -- for instance WP:NPOV talks about "significant" views. Especially with WP:WEIGHT where it says that "tiny minority" views "do not belong in Wikipedia" -- all these suggesting a notability-like criterion on top of verifiability, etc. (more evidence in favor of bumping WP:N up to official policy?) mike4ty4 23:05, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    I'm not sure WP:Notability is consistent with WP:NPOV#Undue_weight either. Undue weight is more about proportions, and WP:N is mostly used as a justification in AfDs. Ancillary articles are one of the lower forms of weight. ("If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancillary article) regardless of whether it is true or not; and regardless of whether you can prove it or not.") Take Earth and Flat earth theory, for example. In order of decreasing weight, we could talk almost wholly about the Flat earth theory in Earth, we could limit it to its own section (with or without a separate article on it), we could briefly mention it and link to a separate article, we could limit it strictly to its own article, we could only mention it in a list or disambiguation page somewhere, or we could not include it anywhere in Wikipedia at all. Now, if we delete the Flat Earth theory, then we encourage greater inclusion of it in the Earth article, thereby giving it more weight. If someone bother to refute the Flat Earth theory, then I would say that gives us enough information to present both sides of the story and write an neutral article on the subject. (Also see WP:FRINGE.)
    Granted, WP:N looks better now than when I first read it, but I don't see the point in counting sources. If you have enough good sources to represent all sides of the issue, whatever number that is should be enough. If the coverage isn't exactly "in-depth", no problem, just keep the article similarly brief, making sure to keep things in proportion of course.
    Armed Blowfish (mail) 01:52, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    There is nothing wrong with how it reads as a "threshold" is a place that something starts, not the final word on anything. So therefor attribution is the threshold for inclusion as everything must be at least verifiable to be included. NeoFreak 22:43, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

    Attributing videos

    Can a user attribute videos as a source for those videos. For example can one insert the following in wikipedia, and source it directly to the film:

    "In the film The Measure of a man, Sidney Crawford states 'I live in a city in which I've been rebuffed at the doors of many restaurants.'"

    How do other users go about verifying that statement. Must they watch the entire film (which may be hours long) and hope not miss the statement?Bless sins 01:47, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

    That sounds right to me, even if not terribly convenient. We have always treated novels and the like as self-sourcing, basically (i.e. if the dialogue just mentioned were from a book, one would certainly not need to cite a third-party source such as a book review or Cliff's Notes for the quote), and I can't see that this is any different for videos, songs or other media, just because they aren't dead trees. I would certainly have no objection at all to a time code identifying where in the film or song or whatever the cited material occurred, by way of analogy to a page number in a book, but I would not insist on it (especially since it may not be very accurate at all for material sourced from video or audio tape - analog VHS tape runs at different speeds in different machines - vs. DVDs or other digital media. Another way of looking at it is that if we can't source in this manner, then virtually every single TV show and movie article is at least partially unsourced, and many (I mean thousands) would have to be immediately AfD'd as utterly unsourced and therefore unreliable, because they are entirely self-sourcing. This is a goose/gander issue, really. If it's good enough for novels and comic books, it's good enough for movies and album tracks. PS: this does point out a somewhat different issue, namely that a clever disrupter can fairly easily create plausible but totally fake citations to things like TV shows few people ever watched, songs on out-of-print albums, and so forth; but this is not a problem unique to non-paper media. It is equally trivial to assert cited facts from books, magazines, comics, and newspapers so hard to obtain that no one is ever likely to verify that the citations are valid. I've seen many, many citation that could arouse such suspicions, but we are really left with little choice but to assume good faith, unless we actually change policy, e.g. by elevating some variant of WP:RS to policy, and extending it to something like "Wikipedia:Reliable and conveniently verifiable sources", and I don't think anyone here wants to go there. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:06, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    There are two problems. One is that wikipedia is transmitted through teh same medium as books articles etc. I can "copy and paste" a (small citation) and that can be verified really easily. Videos are a different medium. Second it is very incovenient to go through an entire (if the quote is near the end) video just to find a quote. Even then one might totally miss that quote. Also if a particular note was notable enough, shouldn't it have been published (by a written source)?Bless sins 02:23, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    Also what if that quote is used to describe the words/perspectives of a living person?Bless sins 02:23, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    You're confusing WP:N and WP:V. Facts do not have to pass notability criteria, and no there is no particular reason that a particular passage would be quoted in a written source in most cases. Re: BLP - so what? This happens every minute of every day on CNN. Doesn't make it a source we cannot quote. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 02:59, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    PS: WP and books are emphatically not the same medium. The fact that you can fairly easily quote a text passage from a book into e-text on Wikipedia is no different from quoting a clearly-spoken passage in a movie. Both are precisely equally verifiable (and precisely equally difficult to verify in that one has to obtain and examine the source); the only difference is that if you are given a page number, the source will be more quickly verifiable if it is in print. If you are not given a page number, it is quite likely that the video source, even if it were a very long movie, would be more quickly verifiable than the book! — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 03:03, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    For books we have google book searches etc, and we can locate a word in written electronic media within seconds. We can also request the user for a page number, and that would make it really easy to verify. Reading a book requires no special technology. But watching a video available only on VHS, (or DVD) requires one have a video cassette player, or DVD player. Also books can be easily obtained from libraries (that's how I verify them), but libraries have relatively few collections of movies, and even less of tv programmes.
    "Facts do not have to pass notability criteria," Sure they do. We shouldn't quote every single sentence in a movie, should we? When deciding at what to include, notablity should play a large role. "This happens every minute of every day on CNN." CNN is available online in a format that I can read.Bless sins 03:25, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    Technology and cost are not relevant. If, for example, Donald Duck (Disney) and Bugs Bunny (Warner) appeared together on a ViewMaster disk, that disk would be its own source (one would need to identify it by serial number and so forth). The fact that the (hypothetical) item is hard to find, and requires a special viewing apparatus is of no consequence. Similarly, there might be a recording of Enrico Caruso that only exists on a 78 rpm vinyl record, never re-released on CD. Quoting the lyrics of that song and sourcing it to the 78 in question is not problematic, even though it requires an old-school record player to play it, and obtaining it might cost you $2500 on eBay. By way of a real-world comparison, three of the most valuable sources on One-pocket cost easily $700 to $1500 to obtain, each, because they are out of print (books) and major collectors' items. The most valuable reference for cue sports in general usually runs $500 to $900 itself for similar reasons. Too bad, so sad. They remain reliable sources nonetheless. Legendary ones, even. Google book searches are not relevant either. Yes they can provide convenience links, but that is beside the point. There are literally at least hundreds of thousands of books that Google isn't cognizant of (same goes for Amazon, etc.) Modern gee-whiz search tech is fantastic for things that are in print or semi-recently were in print, yet utterly, unbelievably useless for much older but authoritative historical material that predates the concept of the ISBN number. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:10, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    For a good "recorded live" discussion in AfD about reliability vs. convenience of sources, please see Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Ralph Schoenman. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 04:10, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    "especially since it may not be very accurate at all for material sourced from video or audio tape - analog VHS tape runs at different speeds in different machines - vs. DVDs or other digital media." Even in digital media, time stamps aren't totally reliable. PAL vs NTSC editions of the same disc frequently play back at slightly different speeds. JulesH 10:42, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    Videos are inherently unattributable, for these and many other reasons. Jayjg (talk) 03:20, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    Please explain. I essentially beg to differ. A movie or music CD is precisely as self-sourcing as Moby Dick (I mean the book, not cassette, CD or online audio versions.  :-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 09:14, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    Where's the difference between a video and a book in that regard? We need no sources for plot sections, whether we're talking about a book or about a film. --Conti| 12:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    It's easy to cite a quotation from a specific edition of a book, and a page number. It takes special equipment and personal interpretation to try to cite a video in the same way, and there are no guarantees that any two viewers will reach the same conclusions about what the contents state, and when they stated them. Jayjg (talk) 17:35, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    Hmm, that depends, I guess. When you copied the video yourself or taped something from TV, there are problems with citing. But when we cite DVDs or VHS films, where's the problem? We can name the specific edition of the DVD/VHS and the timestamp just as easy as we can name the ISBN and the page number of a book. --Conti|
    As has been explained already, timestamps are neither consistent nor reliable, and in any event two people could well hear different things when listening. When you are quoting text, there is no confusion or room for error. Jayjg (talk) 18:56, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    When the DVD is cited exactly (Region Code, version, etc., just like we do with books), I fail to see how there can be problems with timestamps. Do you have an example? Hearing different things might be a good point, but then again, we have subtitles nowadays for pretty much everything, so this is possibly only a problem with older videos. --Conti| 19:32, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    Subtitles aren't always verbatim transcripts, though. I think in general we can believe our ears. In the rare case that people can't agree on what was said, then you need a secondary source to clarify.
    As for varying timestamps, that's not so different from varying page numbers in different editions of a book. It's annoying sometimes, but doesn't make the content unattributable. —Celithemis 08:24, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
    "63% of the way between the third time the lion roars and the start of the credits" --NE2 13:05, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

    Perhaps we should consider the consequences of quoting videos, and other such difficult materials. We already have many issues of quoting books and articles truthfully, and making sure they are reliable. Suggesting that videos and other difficult to verify materials can be attributed, will cause users to abuse this policy. A disrupter, for example, may attribute some text to a video, and an honest user would have no way of verifying it.Bless sins 12:32, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    The exact same thing is true for citing books. A troll can simply attribute something to a book that is real, but very, very hard to find. That does not and has never meant that we are not allowed to use such sources. It just means we should probably be suspicious when a newbie cites such hard to find sources. On the other hand, demanding a secondary source to quote from the newest hollywood film (that just came out on DVD) is just ridiculous. --Conti| 15:26, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Yes. Verifiability doesn't have to be easy. SchmuckyTheCat 15:51, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Idiot's guide

    I see the efforts put in all this but there should be a far simpler idiot's guide version at least for the vast majority of new editors and anonymous editors. Not that it makes a difference, I guess. Just my opinion. Zuracech lordum 04:44, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

    Start with WP:IAR. Do not do anything a second time if you are rebuked for doing it the first time. You don't need to read policy at all unless you want to contest someone's rebuke that was based on a policy. WAS 4.250 05:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    I like this page: Wikipedia: Simplified Ruleset. --qp10qp 13:30, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
    There is also WP:ENC for those that are little slow to catch on. NeoFreak 22:38, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

    Wide support

    Does anyone now claim that WP:ATT has the "Wide acceptance" promised by {[tl|policy}}? The raw results from the Wikipedia:Attribution/Poll poll were 48% Broad support; 40% broad oppose; 12 Other. While opinions of this being policy do not match the broad categories exactly, there vary in all directions, and roughly cancel.

    I know a couple editors will; but is there anybody else? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

    I see no way to think that the raw figures you cite can constitute wide support. Unless you are proposing that some of the comments should be discounted because they are clearly not based in concern for Wikipedia's goals, they fail to be well reasoned, or something similar (which isn't necessarily unreasonable, but needs to be clearly articulated). -- Siobhan Hansa 20:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    I would join a consensus that they are not wide support, and therefore this page is not policy. (Whether proposed or rejected policy is another question; but do we need three policy pages on the subjects of this page?) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:29, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
    With so many in support of WP:ATT, it also leaves open the question of whether NOR, V and RS have "wide acceptance". I think the status quo of everything being policy is the best way to continue until we can sort out a solution. A large proportion of the objections to WP:ATT were not objections to its content, but its form, so I think it is fair to say that the content has wide acceptance, and that is all that is necessary (I think) to have a policy tag on the page. JulesH 07:40, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    The content of WP:ATT does not have wide acceptance. A number of users have expressed objections to its content. I have expressed strong objection. The proponents of the current wording of WP:ATT have shown a reluctance to discuss the reasons for the wording and possible alternative wordings. --Coppertwig 13:35, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    I would disagree with Coppertwig. I think there definitely is broad support for the content of ATT. Very few of the "oppose" comments discussed content issues. By far, the majority of the "opposed" comments discussed the feeling that V and NOR express a significantly different idea and should not be merged... but said nothing about the content. Indeed quite a few "opposed" comments expressed support for the idea of exporting the wording of ATT to clean up and imporove V and NOR. The issue isn't content, but concept. Is it better to have one policy or two? Blueboar 14:05, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    My opposition said that it wasn't a bad idea to merge, but it WAS the content that was the problem. Even excluding the RS parts, ATT subtly changes V as to how and which sources can be used. That is a fundamental change. It expresses the ideas of a minority of wikipedians who are very active in editing att/nor/v/rs but it doesn't express consensus. SchmuckyTheCat 15:49, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Oh, there is no question that a few people have issues with the content ... taking a quick look at the comments, I come up with aproximately 30 of the "oppose" comments that mention one aspect of the content or another as being an issue. That is around 8% of the "oppose" votes and 3% of the total. To me, this indicates that while there is not broad support for the concept of ATT, there is fairly broad support for the content of ATT. Blueboar 18:12, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    There isn't enough of the basic question in the poll about content to get good information out of it. SchmuckyTheCat 19:30, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Many of the support !votes don't endorse the content, but support the general idea of a merger for the sake of efficiency. I don't think we need an exact count; the raw figures are much too far from a supermajority. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:46, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    True... I suppose what I am getting at here is that Coppertwig seemed to be saying that since there was no broad consensus in favor of the ATT merger, there was also no consensus for the language. We certainly can't say that with the results of this poll. Actually, what the poll indicates is that most people feel there are concerns that are more pressing than content that need to be addressed... things like which of these pages should be policy, and how we should go about it. We can argue about language once we know for sure what we are arguing about and where. Blueboar 20:58, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Agreed that the poll doesn't establish that there is no consensus on the content of WP:ATT. But the poll's explanatory note to voters focused attention on the merge (Wikipedia:Attribution is a merger of Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research into a single policy page...The intention is not to change policy, but to express it more clearly and concisely, and to make it easier to follow and maintain by having it expressed on one policy page, and discussed on one talk page. What do you think of this?). Therefore, the poll doesn't establish that everything except the merge has consensus approval. Many voters may have voted and/or commented exclusively on what they felt invited to offer feedback on. I fear that if we dismiss expressed content concerns, especially those that were repeated or seconded, we set ourselves up for the proverbial fool's task: repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome. Let's not. Lethiere 02:10, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
    I think the way to ensure that there is broad consensus on language is to bring up the new language at WP:V and WP:NOR piece by piece, and see if there is consensus that it is current practice, and does have approval. (The wording about attribution should be late in the process; it was widely discussed in the poll, and it may need improvement to have consensus.) Then we can talk about merger, when it would be purely mechanical. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:46, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
    • This page should be deprecated to show that it is not policy. If anyone wants to reword it and try again they remain free to do so, but it the mean time we should go back to only the old pages being policy. This page should be marked accordingly. Johntex\talk 00:11, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Aftermath

    Part of the problem with the merge is that the question of merger was commingled with all the refinements of language that came about in the process. For example, WP:V says almost nothing about when citations should be in-line, and ATT was attacked from all sides of that debate.

    I support almost all of what WP:ATT actually says; where it has new language from WP:V it does represent current best practice. I therefore think that it is worth incorporating many of the ideas here into V and NOR. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

    Verifiability vs Attribution

    Any unsourced material may be removed

    I have a big problem with this kind of statement, that periodically causes edition wars on fr: (the best argument to censor out an opponent is to state that his explaination of a given POV is unsourced...).

    This is taken from WP:V; see what they actually say. In the process, it includes much more caution that removing unsourced material is not to be done lightly. Please discuss it there. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:49, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

    Limitations of sourcing requirements

    If a material passes Wikipedia:Verifiability, Neutral point of view and Wikipedia:Notability, it has its place on wikipedia. But, such material needs not always to be based on sources, and unwanted material may be rejected using other (more adapted) principles. The key to source requirement is: if a reasonable doubt arises on this material, how can it be verified?

    • Common knowledge material ("London (pronounced /ˈlʌndən/) is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom") needs no special source, as long as it respects the Neutral point of view criterium (is the prononciation the same everywhere?). If you doubt this information, the point can be easily checked.
    • Explanation material ("Sex-selective abortion was rare before the late 20th century because of the difficulty of determining the sex of the fetus before birth" - picked here) is welcome, as long as the information is relevant with respect to the article. Any reader capable of understanding the sentence can see the point, there can be no reasonable doubt on such a material.
    • Most scientific material (see Poker probability for instance) can be easily explained and/or demonstrated if needed. The limit here is that of Wikipedia:No original research and relevance/notoriety, but a presentation of maths underlying poker probability is welcome if adapted to the potential reader. Such presentation can be easily checked and corrected by contributers of the same field.
    • Non-controversial material needs not to be heavily sourced : reading "The blizzards generated in the north each winter often drift southward into the central highlands" in Geography of Bhutan seems an interesting description, and the general reference to Library of Congress Country Studies seems quite enough for that article.

    If not everywhere, when is a source required, then? A source is clearly needed for statements that are both potentially controversial, and could not be verified otherwise. "In his early teens, Albert Einstein attended the new and progressive Luitpold Gymnasium"= non controversial, whereas "Einstein publicly stated reservations about the proposal to partition the British-supervised British Mandate of Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish countries" should clearly be:

    • there may be doubts on that material,
    • and the only way to settle a dispute on authenticity would be a source.

    I'd like to propose the insertion of this section, but (1) it should be discussed (2) the english needs proofreading (3) the article being protected, I can't do it myself... ;o) Michelet-Me laisser un message 07:16, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Generally, I'd disagree there. Sourcing is required, period, not a nicety, not only necessary in certain cases. Granted, non-controversial and very plausible information may effectively never have someone come along to demand a source. But if someone does, the information must be sourced or removed. If you need a reliable source that the chemical formula for water is H2O, it'll take you all of two minutes, arguing would take more time than just providing the source. If something is really common knowledge, that's always the case—sourcing will be easy to find. If not, the knowledge isn't as common as you thought, and a source is needed all the more. Seraphimblade Talk to me 07:50, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Agreed. Sourcing is required for anything that a reader might not know, which is just about everything. Given the appalling grasp of geography that I've seen some people show, I don't suspect it would take too much searching to find somebody who didn't know that London was the capital of the UK, particularly if you're asking in non-Western countries. Limited logical deduction is OK, as long as you stay within the limits of what most readers would be able to follow and be sure is correct. The only caveat is that you're free to leave out the sources for things you think will be uncontroversial until somebody requests them. JulesH 12:15, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    When a source is not problematic, well, .. it's not a problem, of course. Sourcing is clearly a good recommendable practice, I agree. But taking it as a requirement is too strong.

    The problem we often have on fr: is not about good faith contributors, but POV ones, very clever at using the rules of the system, who tend to supress what is against their opinion in the articles on the (factual) basis that it is not sourced. As the rule is stated, they are formally right "Sourcing is required" - but a supression clearly leads to POV article and loss of relevant material. Moderators are helpless in front of such vandalism: they see it's a POV argument, but they are stuck with the respect of a formal rule, the original contributor has gone since long & can't answer, and they usually can't find themeselves a relevant source which would close the case... Never seen that on en:? well, maybe it's a french exception, then.

    All this because what is proposed is the formal rule (sourcing), which is just a mean to quality, and not the objective themeselves, which are Wikipedia:Verifiability, Neutral point of view and relevance. What we need to fight against such vandalism is a caveat saying everything inserted should be sourced "whenever relevant" and can be remouved if unsourced "when the material is dubious and litigious, and can only be verified by linking it to a reliable source". It's obvious, but only for contributors with good faith, & those are not the problem I'm after.

    Sourcing requirement formally prohibits any kind of synthesis, introductive or explanatory work, which is clearly outside the point. And for trivialities, sourcing is most of the time not pertinent, though possible. For common knowledge, "everybody knows" (at least, any parent), for instance, that when a baby pierces its teeth it tends to get irritated bottom - how could you ever seriously source such a thing? ;o) The sourcing terrorism is such that some contributors tend now to oversource, and try to put a reference in front of each and every assertion of an article, because this is the supposed quality requirement for Wikipedia (!) Is this what you want? This is what the rule says... Michelet-Me laisser un message 16:03, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Uh, I have kids, and I've never seen "toothing causes an irritated bottom." If you put that into an article, I would be very likely to request a source. But that's exactly why sourcing is the best policy. You and I could argue all day long, and I wouldn't convince you and you wouldn't convince me. But if you can provide a medical journal, saying that's really so, then into the article it goes, and my personal experience is irrelevant. On the other hand, if you can find nothing but anecdotal evidence, it does not belong in the article. Either way, problem solved. Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:27, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Uh, I had quite a few kids myself and I know what this guy was talking about. Toothing is colloqually associated with fever and diarrhea. And it is very easy to find discussions of this, as long as you use proper terms, rather than "baby talk" ("sore bottom", etc.), like, thusly->here (which btw says "yes and no", in best traditions of wikipedia's NPOV :-). So I agree, if you cannot source it, probably you should not write it in wikipedia, or you make people as confused as yourself. `'mikka 18:42, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    LOL-I'm not trying to make a point on pedicure! The point is simply: if such information is relevant, then it should be mentionned somewhere, and of course if it is supported / dismissed by medical articles, the corresponding information should be sourced. Now,since this appears to be a well-known problem (and corellates to my personnal experience): is there a relevant publication on this subject? Michelet-Me laisser un message 20:41, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Reluctant acceptance of the primate of "Attribution"

    After long thinking and reading other's opinions (especially "An Axiomatic Introduction into Wikitruth") by user:Mukadderat I convinced myself (possibly somewhat contrary to the intentions of Mukadderat) that indeed, "Attribution" is the core policy stemming from the intentions of wikipedia: gathering of encyclopedic knowledge. As Mukadderat correctly noted, there are other places to create the knowledge, just like there other places for collecting "non-encyclopedic" knowledge : wiktionary, wikitravel, wikibooks, etc. I believe, this is a deliberate and well-undestood distinction of encyclopedia, "to collect, not to create". And therefore "attibution" i.e., indication of the source of the collected knowledge, is among natural core policies, not to say in best modern academic traditions.

    The remaining three: WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NOR are but detalizations (albeit very important) of the core policy: the sources must be verifiable and reliable (not "my dad told me so") and we explicitely exclude wikipedians from the list of sources, even if they are experts: either the expert knows the source (hence should have no prolems to comply with the policies) or them itself is a source of newly created knowledge (which is not encyclopedias are for). `'mikka 18:15, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Proposed course of action

    Therefore my proposed course of action is to proceed according to the wikipedia:Summary style of writing:

    • Make the WP:A to be the "root" policy, with (at least) three sections which contain detailed summaries of WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR, with each of them referring to the corresponding main sub-articles, like, {{main|Wikipedia:Verifiability}}, etc.
    • The performed "merge" was in fact a good cleanup of the original policies, therefore the second suggestion is to start re-introducing the made changes back into the three.
    • the FAQ page must be a single one, for the whole bunch, possibly including WP:NPOV since these policies must be considered together.
    • Write a good rationale for the policy, the one based on the purpose and role of wikipedia, not on some catch phases like "verifiability not truth", which sound a revolutionary way, but call for unnecessary conflict with quite a few people who want reliable knowledge, which is produced by the whole combination of wikipedia policies. The latter point must be cleanly expressed in view of the major direction of attacks on wikipedia: its reliability.

    Any opinions? `'mikka 18:05, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    Yeah, my opinion is that RS is not policy, and including a summary of it on a policy page elevates it to one. There are some basic disconnects between the two policies and one guideline. ATT discards the parts that the ATT owners dislike in the original pages through subtle re-writing. SchmuckyTheCat 18:42, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Here I'd like to quote a point from Mukadderat's "essay":
    "A Wikipedia's foundation principle (i.e., a principle beyond any dispute) is the "wiki process" as the decision mechanism on content, which is usually read as consensus decision-making (unless overriden by the ultimate authority). A corollary is an egalitarian absence of a special role of experts as judges of any "truths". Wikipedia:Notability is the major workhop of decision-making: despite its lowly label as "guideline", WP:NOTE is where the ultimate fate of any content lies, and this fate, "to be or not to be", is decided by the whole community (even if implicitely, by the absense of any "nays").
    I agree with him that some guidelines are not mere advices, but in fact descriptions of wikipedia works. For example, WP:MUSIC summarizes major arguments ever made during deletion of wannabe pop-stars, which were considered decisive. In the case of WP:RS, some time ago I suggested to split it into two parts: a "real" policy part and a FAQ part, kinda WP:MUSIC. The "Policy" part must contain at least two fundamental sections (1) list of rock-solid types of reliable sources (2) a policy how to decide whether a particular source is reliable (suggested items: 2.1. The context of "source reliability" must be recognized ("Al Gore is not RS for opinions about gravity, but OK for US politics) 2.2. Place of its discussion: talk page of most relevant article, with invitations in talks of related articles, for broader participation). `'mikka 19:13, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
    Well, basically I'm with you. There's a few changes that have been made to the wording of this page that need to be undone (e.g. the definition of original research is currently a mess; we'd be better off reverting to the original phrasing), but I think this is probably the way to progress. JulesH 18:47, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

    This would require a lot of work though. All the reliable sources section comes from NOR and V, so for a proper summary style type thing, those policies would have to be trimmed or something clever done. But I wonder what the main proponents of this proposal are thinking right now, I think many people would not want to keep 4 policies live, but I will still do a rough attempt at the summary style, I do expect this to be reverted though. --Merzul 00:11, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Ok, I'm done, feel free to revert, I was very experimental and only spent 30 minutes, but I did less controversial changes first, so if this is reverted consider going back to some intermediate revision, e.g. this one, where I fixed some obvious wikilink trickery, based on criticism by Mikkalai. --Merzul 00:46, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Changing back...

    While this is up for discussion and is a proposed guideline, could someone go back and change the edit page warning about attributable to a reliable source. It's not correct right now! Olin 19:49, 9 April 2007 (UTC

    Original Research changes

    This is primarily for Blueboar's reference, as he requested an explanation of the changes when he reverted them, but I'd welcome any additional comments also.

    Briefly, the current definition of OR doesn't work because it has lost the restriction of OR to statements that advance a point that has not been previously published, which greatly expands the scope of the definition to the point where if you read it literally it actually includes almost all content on wikipedia. Discussion about this problem started here and continued at this section before I suggested a new phrasing that solves the problems here. The phrasing I placed in the main page is a slight variation of this phrasing that takes into accounts the comments made on the original suggestion.

    The main differences between this version and the one it replaced are:

    • Insertion of the requirement that something "promotes a point of view or idea in a way that cannot be attributed to a published reliable source" before it is classified as OR. This requirement is based on the old, now-deleted text that required material to "advance a position" before it is OR, but rephrased to fix the objections to that phrase (primarily that it didn't mean what it was intended to, as the position advanced may or may not be an original one) that caused its removal in the first place.
    • Contraction of the original four bullet points into a shorter list of three points.

    For reference, the text I wish to introduce is as follows:

    Material is original research if it introduces, in a way which promotes a point of view or idea in a way that cannot be attributed to a published reliable source, any of the below:

    • a theory, argument, idea, or definition, or
    • a synthesis of information from multiple sources, or
    • a novel analysis, explanation or interpretation of published facts, opinions or arguments.

    Basically the first sentence is intended to restrict the scope to unpublished ideas, whereas the bullet points show that any kind of text may be included. The current definition lacks the restriction in scope, so we have the nonsensical result that it states "material counts as original research if it introduces a theory" (which presumably means that the general theory of relativity is OR), among other things. JulesH 17:34, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

    I don't really have a problem with the logic or intent of your edit... but I did find your wording to be confusing. Blueboar 17:54, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
    In what way? How should I fix it? JulesH 18:29, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

    Nostalgia

    When wikipedia was very young in December 20, 2001, and CiteYourSources was merely a Rule to consider - - - this was the status of the debate. 4.250.198.151 06:56, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Always leave something undone... I like that rule a lot. Now WP has millions of editors so that may not be as necessary any more, but I think it would still be useful, as there are many more millions of people out there. Lakinekaki 16:59, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    reliable source: a professional's book review/letter to the editor

    I'd like to hear your point of view concerning citing from a book review or a letter to the editor, written by an academic to a non academic publication. I'd appreciate it, if you related to a specific case, which i've described elsewhere. Itayb 06:48, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Section order

    I see the section order has been changed to RS, V, NOR. I don't think this is a good order, for a couple of reasons:

    1. V is the most important concept, and should be up at the top, IMO.
    2. RS is an in-depth and detailed section that is likely to make readers switch off. It would be best if this didn't happen in the first section.

    I propose the order V, NOR, RS. Does anyone have any objections to that order? JulesH 21:02, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

    Makes sense. Are there any news as to what higher powers think about the future of the policy situation? -Merzul 21:09, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
    support: V (the fundamental & universal objective), then NOR (formal exclusion, needed for V), then RS (which is a [consequence of / mean to] the two previous ones). I feel against the merging, but if this page is kept it should present what is important first... Michelet-Me laisser un message 01:03, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

    Dead?

    Is it likely this will ever gain consensus? If not, we should mark it as {{rejected}}. —Ashley Y 09:34, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    More people liked this wording than the V+NOR wording so if we are to mark anything rejected it would be V and NOR. The policy itself has not been rejected. We simply have no one specific wording of it that has a current consensus. WAS 4.250 10:28, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    [citation needed]. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 10:58, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    I'm refering to the poll we just took. WAS 4.250 12:13, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    The actual poll results do not support your assertion at all; the vast majority of the pro-ATT vote was in support of the merger for "one-page simplicity"-related rationales; very few commented (pro or con) on the issue of preferred text that you raised in this thread. "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."  :-) To return to the main point, V+NOR has never (since become designated policy) had any cognizable lack of consensus, in contrast to ATT; there is no lack of "one specific wording" that has current consensus. The fact that you assert that there is a conflict between ATT and V+NOR on this topic (I just kind of have to point this out) is evidence against the proposition that ATT didn't change policy, by the way. All that said, I don't see any reason to mark ATT "Rejected" just yet; even I and I'm sure many other questioners (and even outright opponents) of ATT consider it to have returned to the realm of "Proposal" and to remain active as one. But let's not engage in silliness in the pursuit of demonstrating that. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:43, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    PS: If I've misunderstood you and you simply mean "most poll respondents supported the ATT merger" in general, even that isn't true. More supported than outright opposed, but the neutral votes are "non-supporting". Note also that a great many of the "support" votes should really be classified in section 3, because they were qualified/compromise support votes, not outright support votes. Many more of those could be recategorized thusly than could oppose votes (which did admittedly include a number of votes that should also be recategorized as "compromise" suggestions.) — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib] 12:47, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    I believe that we mostly or entirely agree but imprecise words are getting in the way of accurate communication. Try this on for size: what the poll showed the most support for was a single unified policy with most of the contents of ATT but restoration of perceived changed parts of V and NOR. WAS 4.250 14:41, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    "I'd buy that for a dollar!" The problem is really that getting there will take a lot more work, because a simple copy-paste of V+NOR into ATT will satisfy the "NO changes!" extreme, w/o providing a document more useful than the separate ones, while really compressing them into an easily understood whole is inevitably going to lead to subtle but actual changes to policy (I think this may really be what was behind Jimbo's rather harsh delayed reaction, though I'm no mind reader.) That is, how do we restore perceived V and NOR changes while also compressing them? It's a thornier question than I think was believed until very recently. So, all that said, I reiterate that marking ATT "Rejected" seems pretty premature. To me ATT has simply missed a deadline. I'm not (yet) on board with the idea that ATT can truly replace V and NOR; I think having it eventually be "the" policy and having V and NOR (and RS, lest we forget the little sibling) as shortcuts go to FAQ/explanatory-guideline pages that explore the topics in more depth, just might work. I'm on board for trying to make it work, anyway. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 15:21, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    SMcCandlish wrote: "a simple copy-paste of V+NOR into ATT will satisfy the "NO changes!" extreme, w/o providing a document more useful than the separate ones". I disagree. I supported the pure merger in the poll, with the comment: "Easier to understand, to remember, to reference and to maintain. There's still work to be done on the merged policy's content and wording". In the discussion, under the heading "Do we need to make any changes to present policy or practice, while we have this opportunity?" i wrote: "There are many flaws with the current text of the policies, but top priority is to bring about the merger. It would be immensely easier - both in terms of getting the required support as well as in terms of making the physical merger - if no essential change to the policies took place." I still stand behind every word. Itayb 15:29, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    Working party

    I've discussed the poll outcome with Jimbo, and we've agreed that it would be a good idea to form a bipartisan working party to develop a compromise, and that it should include the best voices among the yes and no vote.

    Jimbo's on his way overseas at the moment, but will try to find time to make a comment about this publicly.

    In the meantime, we should think about who should be on the working party. One person from the no vote that I would like to see on it is Sandy Georgia, who made some excellent points, and I would suggest a group of around five to ten people.

    I'm going to post this note on a few of the relevant pages. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:45, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    As someone who didn't vote in the poll and has no real firm opinion toward either idea, I don't mind donating some time to figuring this out if you're looking for volunteers. --badlydrawnjeff talk 18:52, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    I think we should discuss the working party issue on Wikipedia talk:Attribution/Community discussion. Cheers, SlimVirgin (talk) 18:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

    Violating clause in this rule to WP:NPOV

    "claims not supported or claims that are contradicted by the prevailing view in the relevant academic community. Be particularly careful when proponents of such claims say there is a conspiracy to silence them."

    This directly in conflict with WP:NPOV that is supposed to be one of the overriding policies.

    "The neutral point of view is a means of dealing with conflicting views. The policy requires that, where there are or have been conflicting views, these should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being the truth, and all significant published points of view are to be presented, not just the most popular one. It should also not be asserted that the most popular view or some sort of intermediate view among the different views is the correct one. Readers are left to form their own opinions."

    The way it reads right now, while string theory is the prevalent theory in physics, competing theories, though accredited, must be silenced. KV(Talk) 02:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

    You are missing the context. The section starts with this: "Certain red flags should prompt editors to examine the sources for a given claim". This is not "silencing" but advising to be cautions and examine the sources. That's all. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 02:23, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
    Perhaps a bit more explanation could be provided? For example, the difference between using a source to back a statement of fact ("String theory is wrong....") and a statement of fact about opinion ("Dr. Fringe Theorist believes that string theory is wrong..."). Also, how much weight should we give Dr. Fringe Theorist's opinion, although the section in question might not be the best place to discuss that. Due weight aside, things that meet the criteria of exceptional claims most likely need sources of a high degree of reliability before they can be stated as facts. (Lower degrees of reliability may indicate different levels of weight when stating it as the source's opinion.)
    Armed Blowfish (mail) 03:59, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
    I would emphasize that the least contentious way to provide for a truly minor claim is ("Dr FT has said 'Fringe theory is wrong' <ref>source</ref>") if a suitable very brief quote can be found. It really has to be something very far out to be not mentioned at all 03:46, April 16, 2007 User:DGG
    I added a /ref to close the ref tags for you there. Format issue only. But I have seen issues like this clearly argued in the past. I think that generally, the majority in certain topics, majority of the editors on a topic to say the least, would use this clause to say that such sources are not allowed. It has been done before, and sat in front of admins. Being clear is more important than being brief. KV(Talk) 17:24, 16 April 2007 (UTC)